How would you feel if the object of your affection canceled plans with you? How would you feel if, earlier that day, you expended a lot of energy preparing for those plans -- plus you were late for work and class and just had an overall disappointing day and this cancellation was just the super-sad cherry on top? This is the true-life thesis of Terence Nance's first film An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, which is hashed out with additions by Namik Minter, the real girl who really broke plans with Nance.
For most of us, getting friend-zoned doesn't happen on screen, but Nance decided to make his heartache public. Originally, the film was a short called How Would You Feel? . It was not meant to be revealed as a true story. However, once Minter saw the short film, she thought she should have the opportunity to defend herself and explain her motives.
Through handheld camera work, Run Lola Run-style fast-paced cinematic scenes, and kitschy animation, Nance plays out the duration of their affair and its effect on him. He even reads personal letters and goes into past relationships, which in the end leaves you identifying with his feelings. Everyone's been there, he's just the first one to film it.
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Overall, Nance succeeds in his ability to tell his story and make you feel something. The disjointed mix of past and present told from different points of view could seem confusing, but instead it flows if you're willing to follow him. The animation adds a beautiful and metaphorical level to what otherwise might be a pretty boring retelling of some guy's sexual history. Most shocking of all is Minter's willingness to be included in the project, as she is kind of the bad guy. After all is explained, you may not understand her reasoning, but you do see that she's not some one-dimensional heartbreaker. After all, when does love ever make sense?
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty opens at FilmBar Friday, May 31, and plays through June 6.