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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

An Unwelcome Guest Is "A Thief in the Night" In Stirring Dogme '95 Inspired FTB Drama!

"A THIEF IN THE NIGHT" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 12:37
Company:  FTB

Felix (Felix Alonzo) and Cassie (Cassie Stewart) invite a bunch of their best friends over for their engagement party, and it looks to be a fun and meaningful night for all of them.

But unbeknowest to Felix, Cassie's taken it upon herself to call Ron (Ron Blanton) over for the festivities, even though he and Felix haven't talked in years, and for good reason -- a reason that just might cause the not quite married couple's relationship to go up in smoke . . .

A DIFFERENT TAKE

"A Thief in the Night" is an interesting short film in many ways, not the least of which because it's made according to the rules of the Dogme '95 manifesto written by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg.  It's highly possible that you aren't familiar with what that is, so I'll break it down for you.  Essentially, it's a series of rules that are supposed to help filmmakers stay focused on story and remain minimalist and ego-free.  One of the ways in which this is done is by not crediting the director, for instance.  In the case of "A Thief in the Night" there are no credits at all apart from the actors, so to remain true to the principles to which this film ascribes, I'll not go into detail about who does what like I usually do.

HATRED OF A MINUTE

As for the film itself, it's smart, subtle and above all else simple.  We waste no time getting to the point and through a very documentarian and handheld visual style, we are swiftly shown what we need to see and quickly feel engaged in the very human drama on display.  The dialogue is extremely realistic and understated, and the acting is top notch from pretty much everyone.  Blanton is the biggest standout, with his borderline narcissistic performance -- he sells every tall tale he tells brilliantly.

Production values are high, although certain scenes carry purposeful amounts of grain but again I felt like this was for a specific aim: the filmmakers are trying to draw the audience in, to give us an emotional result, and it works every time.

The only negative to the film is that the conclusion doesn't quite pay off the way it should -- it just sort of ends.  I suppose you could say this was a bit more realistic, as things in real life aren't open and shut, but considering how emotional the rest of the film was, I really wanted to feel like this movie took me somewhere.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 4 / 5.  I loved the fact that the movie felt real throughout and never was cheesy or over the top with the emotional content, which is all too often the case with short dramas.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Documentary and reality show style works, and at times even feels inspired, but at the end of the day you're limited with what you can do.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Coloring looked good, pacing was definitely on and the film was the perfect length.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5. Dialogue and sound was recorded well, but part of the Dogme 95 stuff is that you can't have unnaturally occurring music (i.e. no soundtrack).  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean a more quiet, introspective feel, which worked for this particular film.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Excellent performances from everyone involved.

Final Grade: 3.7 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "A Thief in the Night" right now on Vimeo and follow the creators on Facebook!

Want to learn more about Dogme '95?  Learn more from Wikipedia right here!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!