When Will The Chameleon Speak [Lea Pfandler, USA, 2021]


When Will the Chameleon Speak is a tender, melancholic, but ultimately hopeful exploration of the growing pains of being a young artist struggling to find their creative voice. We follow three young girls, Sarah, Josephine, and Bella, on their individual journeys, who at the outset live very different lives, yet are connected through their personal demons. As they juggle the day-to-day challenges of being students, women, daughters, and just young people, the biggest roadblock for them is to have their voices heard as a means of existential salvation.


Sarah comes from a home with a demanding parent, and she is prone to allowing other’s needs to take precedence over her own. For her, poetry is a form of catharsis. Bella is a budding musician who agonises to find the right words to accompany her tunes. Josephine is under pressure to be perfect, keep up appearances, and appease her father, all of which eat her up inside and lead her toward addiction. Events conspire to bring them together, highlighting the healing power of collaboration, not just as artists but as humans, filling the voids in each other’s lives to bring out the best versions of themselves.

The editing style of the film is apropos to its lyrical, poetic themes, and the cinematography brilliantly captures the somber, alienated world of each girl’s life as a student and young creative. The girls play their roles well, particularly Maayan Amiran who portrays Josephine, the dancer struggling with addiction. Music is at the heart of this short film, with soft guitar tracks infusing the scenery with sensuous melancholy. Plot points that bring these girls together could have been executed in a more clear and seamless way. Josephine’s character is layered and interesting, but doesn’t fit as effortlessly, from a narrative standpoint, with the other girls.

Overall, When Will the Chameleon Speak is a good effort that is mostly successful in delivering its message ─ alone we can only do so much, but together we can achieve so much more, and we should help encourage young women all over the world to seek out kindred spirits and keep fighting for their dreams.

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