For anyone that has not worked in the car park security industry before, it’s a little bit like singing in purgatory while working on a 3D sudoku. You begin to feel like you are a type of über voyeur, the only upside being that when you do eventually go insane, the images that flash through your lobotomised mind will not be that of your own.
Few films are able to directly tackle the reality of a boring workplace — in fact, this is one of the only recent dramas that takes on the topic—and are able to transform it into something more appealing. Timecode is an impressive short film that takes us directly into Luna’s (Lali Ayguadé’s) life, and its snapshot narrative fits the short film medium perfectly.
There is a unifying ethos within the rhythm of this short film because it is so familiar, and the most basic of stories are told, instilling a fantasy element using nothing but straight human reality. This is all managed within 15 minutes of unpredictable drama, although perhaps the correct term should be ‘anti-drama,’ since it is the void of life that Arturo Méndiz’s film is concerned with, where both the characters and audience are asked if they are able to fill it, and transplant the grey with something more alive.
Timecode is a simple example of where genuine creativity has overpowered the ‘only bums on seats matter’ way of thinking. Everything is surgical and well done, conceptualisation, casting, direction, acting, and so on, like you would expect from a production at this level, where it is the overall portrayal of these character’s spirits in reaction to their sterile workplace environment that creates the original atmosphere.
Traditional short stories that have been adapted for film — when on point — carry that singular element of urgency, in the exact same way as short films. There is not much that you can do with a car park and two subdued workers inside 900 seconds alone. And yet there is. Here they bridge the two polars that are normally hard for cinema to connect while entertaining. That of humdrum boredom, and the tension that we all want to tear out of the nine five at times. We have all been Luna, and her partner at work Diego (Nicolas Ricchini), where work encroaches on our connection to a non-dronelike life.
Death is reminded that they are not ready for liquidation just yet. You cannot get political, existential, or overly romantic inside this amount of time in cinema. Short films are a little bit like the first minutes of a date in this way. This release manages it, however, in a natural, unpretentious, and direct way. It does not have that off-putting scent that purpose built ‘arts films’ can often have, and cares more about escapism within reality, as supposed to escapism using mechina unlikely.
This film’s point, grace, and nature, is that it takes what we associate with a less-than-uplifting environment, and manages to evolve it in all directions. The main tool that the creative team uses is physical movement, combined with an inexplicit foundation that is universally relatable, cooking an everyday narrative until the outcome, which in a welcome fashion is not something that you see coming. This is why this film has been praised so much across the globe, because the normal ‘boy meets girl’ narrative is altered, and this production relies more on a unique occurrence, that requires no more on sensationalism, than it does on two human beings attempting to defy their current societal circumstance.
Timespan refreshens the road. In 2017, Orson Welles wrote a subplot to 1984 about two workers. They wished that they could say more to one another while being ushered in and out of a CCTV room, like two muzzled birds. Then another time came, making it possible for madness and life to speak, moving free.
Dir: Juanjo Giménez Peña
Scr: Pere Altimira, Juanjo Giménez Peña
Cast: Lali Ayguadé, Nicolas Ricchini
Prd: Arturo Méndiz, Juanjo Giménez Peña, Daniel Villanueva
DOP: Pere Pueyo
Music: Iván Céster, Xavi Saucedo, Javier Bayon
Run time: 15 minutes
Follow Timecode on Facebook to find out where the film is screening in 2017.