Unbecoming (2016): A Review

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Continuing their theme of locally sourced film art, the poster for Unbecoming was created by Columbia, SC artist (and personal friend) Daniel Machado.

Chris & Emily Reach White write and produce carefully crafted films, a fitting outgrowth of Greenville’s craft scene within the work of storytelling.

What I love about Chris & Em’s films is that they offer us such richly nuanced visions of the world. A moment can hold a world – and often when these two are involved, it’s true. (Check out their latest feature Cinema Purgatorio, a funny and warm look at the independent film world.)

Chris’s latest project is a set of five short films released April 3 as Unbecoming.  Through these five tales, we stare at a kaleidoscopic view of loss, through a lens sharply ground to precision by Southern Gothic humor and insight.

I adore short stories. To me, they represent a nearly perfect genre: concise and measured yet high-impact. The best writers are brief to the point of almost miserly with their details. Unlike novels, short stories don’t require 20 pounds of details to drive home their point. A gesture, a glint of light, a glance: we learn everything we are intended to know only through careful observation of the tiniest details.

And Unbecoming delivers those carefully curated details to us as the stories move us through moments in the lives of these otherwise-unrelated characters. We all understand that gut-punch of a breakup; we’ve all wondered if this fight is the one that will end it all; we’ve all got a skeleton or two in our career closets; we’re all trying to run from the final unbecoming, the day when our worldly journey stops with a period instead of hinging on a hopeful semicolon. At times, we are all “unbecoming” – ill-fitted to the moment where we find ourselves. Eventually, we are each “undone.”

Short films, like short stories, demand more of their audience. Chris White doesn’t let us off the hook easy. It’s like being offered a steak dinner in a world saturated by corn-syrup media: welcome, filling, satisfying.

Tied together by look, feel, solid acting, snappy dialogue, story themes, and Carolina locations, the five shorts that form Unbecoming work together to leave an impression far weightier than the 40-minute runtime might suggest. As an honest Southern storyteller, Chris White gives us both wisdom and folly, laughter and regret — and then sends us out to chew on the details for far longer than we spent watching him spin the tales.

Unbecoming premieres in Tryon, NC on April 3, 2016. Visit ChrisWhiteHQ for more information about where to see the film during the coming weeks.

 

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