CAPTCHA (Short Film Review)

Welcome to 1940’s Steam Punk London.

With an estimated budget of £50,000 we witness a cityscape that truly encapsulates the haunting beauty of creeping shadows mixed with the afterglow of artificial street lighting. This is a visually astounding piece of filming and it is impossible not to feel a sense of awe at what scope can be achieved to a cinematic quality that has two particularly distinct and separate styles. We are most certainly deep in the trenches of the digital film generation – it’s such a wondrous thing isn’t it?

In the brief time we have in this world we follow the character of Katya (Amy Beth Hayes) – no relation as far as I’m aware unfortunately – and her long term assignment Mel (Arthur Darvill) whose been spiked with a bug that assimilates a feeling of deep love. Katya makes the choice to betray the mission in order to save him from execution as for her, the love isn’t a brain hack, over time it becomes real. The end results we’re faced with tackles the dramatic consequences of betrayal and forgiveness.

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I want so desperately to write that the story tackles these strong dramatic consequences and moral grey linings with equal flair and layered subtext to that of its visual counterpart but the reality just isn’t so. Why? Because there wasn’t enough screen time to explore the characters and philosophical contexts of which the story introduces us to.  The talk of destiny, the preordained and that of what constitutes as real love has been tackled in the past numerous times with larger budgets, more defined screenwriters, auteur directors and of course longer screen times (see: Cloud Atlas, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Usual Suspects or (500) Days of Summer) which is why the impact of CAPTCHA wasn’t all there, (at no fault to the film itself, it is a short after all) despite the well combined iconography of both film noire and steam punk, the dialog although semblance with film noire roots, somehow unhinges the grit of what made the genre so famous in back in the 40’s.  Yet this is a fantastic calling card entry for the director (Ed Tracy) and all cast and crew involved.

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The fallen femme fatal characteristics of Amy Beth Hayes’s portrayal and the innocence turned scorned Arthur Darvill showcase a beautiful onscreen combination. Ed Tracy is a show horse yet to receive his full audience, if time allowed a full character and story fleshing, it wouldn’t only just reach the levels to attain a passable story it would actually surpass them. Having defined his shift from the comedic (Face/Fonejacker) to dramatic story telling form, Ed Tracy states in no uncertain terms that he’s ready to direct and tackle what could be his future in the film industry.

I look forward to seeing any and all other future projects by Tracy, Darvill and Hayes, they’re untapped resources yet to be capitalised upon in the fullest sense of the word.

4/5

Dir: Edward Tracy

Scr: Edward Tracy and Justin Trefgarne

Starring: Arthur Darvill, Amy Beth Hayes, Nigel Lindsay, Zoe Wannamaker

Prd: Preethi Mavahalli

Country: UK

Year: 2014

Run time: 15 mins

CAPTCHA and behind-the-scenes bundle is available now, globally and exclusively at https://www.wearecolony.com/captcha/