There’s a notion that bigger is always better. Creators of short films disprove this notion every day. The latest is Storm by writer/director Will Kindrick, currently screening in the short program section “Down to Earth” in 2019’s Tribeca Film Festival. Undoubtedly, Storm is going to draw immediate comparisons to the whimsy of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s fantastical dramedy Swiss Army Man, as well as the soulfulness of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. While this makes for some excellent company, the comparisons are not precisely accurate. Rather, while audiences familiar with these other works may make some connection, Storm is an experience unto itself: fantastic, tender, and more than a little mischievous.
In an unknown future, the federal government institutes the Federal Relationship Compatibility Act (FRCA) to ensure its citizens are matched only with completely compatible individuals. Utilizing a sophisticated algorithm, citizens are paired with or reassigned to partners with whom they achieve 98% or higher ratings. However, if a match isn’t found, singles are sent to a permanent facility where they will spend their remaining days alone. Almost at the end of the one-year moratorium, Blake (John Bubniak) remains unmatched and is growing depressed. While taking solace in a bath, Blake accidentally drops his RCA device in the water which ends up propelling him from one water-based location to another, unaware that each jump may send him closer to his perfect match.
There’s a certain majesty to Storm which is easy to identify and quantify, but it is harder to determine how it will resonate. The premise is straightforward and a tad ridiculous, yet, if perceived through the lens of a love story, it’s absolutely wonderful and endearing. Is there any logical sense to someone surviving electrocution via their bath being turned into a water portal? Absolutely not. Yet that’s irrelevant to the nature of the story, which focuses on the nature of love. When it happens, it feels electric and is rarely rational. Love transports us and reframes our world. As Blake jumps from place to place, it’s comedic that he’s naked – he’s in the bath after all – but it’s also a signifier of his vulnerability, of the vulnerability we all share in our quest for love. In this case, that psychological feeling is made tangible, yet the situations are undeniably real, even if nonsensical. But love’s like that. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense and sometimes we must journey to a lot of places before we find what we think we’re looking for.
Given the minimal dialogue present in Storm, with the exception of an initial voiceover which explains the FRCA program, Blake becomes an avatar for the audience’s own hopes, dreams, and experiences. The lack of dialogue puts pressure on the performance and editing to carry the physical and emotional momentum forward, both of which are handled beautifully by Kindrick and Bubniak. There’s rhythm, flow, and delightful touches of humor as Blake struggles in his confusion to understand what’s going on around him. Once he does, Bubniack’s performance and the editing also shift, presenting a man with a clear understanding and concentrated purpose. As in life, our missteps offer the greatest lessons and Blake learns from his, navigating the jump points with intelligence and vigor, representing the way we become more focused upon shifting from ethereal to concrete notions of love.
The playfulness in Kindrick’s script – the gags of Blake jumping from one location to another in a state of incredible confusion, along with the shift to purposeful action – sucks the audience right in. We don’t know Blake when we first meet him, only that he consistently struggles to find a match and that time’s running out. Using gags makes his situation seem less dire while also influencing the audience to root for this obvious underdog. Again, largely through physical performance, Bubniak convincingly conveys the hero’s journey. For her part, Corey Potter as Natalie, another jumper Blake randomly bumps into, matches Bubniak, offering an evocative performance with less screentime. With nary a word beyond her own name, she’s able to express the same confusion in her situation, as well as an incredible hopefulness upon meeting Blake. What’s lovely about the performance from both parties is that neither are seen as a rescuer of the other. They’re more like individual souls crashing against the waves, finding themselves lucky enough to collide with someone else at just the right moment, just as in love.
Storm may be brief, but it makes an impact. Most of this is due to Will Kindrick’s script, but there’s no denying David Vollrath’s cinematography captures the blending of technological wonder and fantasy, all while maintaining a modern, yet timeless feel. If you’re able to make it to any of the screenings during Tribeca, you won’t leave disappointed. If not, keep a watchful eye on Storm’s website. This tale of a water-soaked love does what all great love stories do, reminds us that true love finds us when we’re ready and never a moment sooner.
The fourth and final screening of Storm during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival is at 11p, May 4th at the Village East Cinema. Head here for ticketing information and details.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5.