Gramercy, the latest short film from Pat Heywood and Jamil McGinnis, explores the experience of depression with a subtle honesty and meditative artfulness. While the film doesn’t tell much of a story to speak of – at a deliberately slow twenty-two minutes, maybe half the runtime is taken up by dialogue of any kind – it does a very effective job of bringing the audience into the mind of a young man grappling with the isolation and uncertainty that follows a tragedy.
A young man named Shaq (Shaq Bynes) returns to his hometown in New Jersey after a long absence. He ignores answering machine messages, goes to a party, thinks about buying a broken-down car, and has a heart-to-heart with an old friend. That’s about it as far as plot goes, but where the film really lives is in the silences between the talking. Shaq’s life is permeated by an inescapable sadness. Whether in the quiet of his home, the noise of the party crowd, or the literal suffocation of a bag over the head in the back seat, he is always alone in his grief, and alone with his own thoughts. The pervasive tone of melancholy introspection is driven home by an excellent, low-key soundtrack of chill beats, and the beautiful cinematography shifts back and forth between the black and white hues of his grim reality and the colorful world of his inner mind. Gramercy effectively captures authentic moments that will feel familiar to anyone who has experienced depression, and when Shaq finally finds the space to start sharing his feelings with someone, it offers a brief glimmer of hope for the life that can come after.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 Stars