This was a tough one for me. Just before sitting down to write this I couldn't help but think I was missing something. A nagging feeling that I just wasn't grasping everything I was seeing and hearing. Somehow, I was just as much in the dark as a child hiding under their blanket in the dead of night. I had already figured I wanted to give a personal rating of three and a half stars... yet I also felt that if I could only grasp what was surely right in front of me, I would rate "Library Hours" a little higher. Not that there is anything wrong with a solid three and a half stars. A very commendable rating for any indie production. I just thought... ahh... what the hell. As these first words of my review began appearing onscreen I still hadn't got it. I am however, still sure I'm not seeing everything.
Jim Vendiola has presented a very unusual short film. Devoid of pretty much any dialog and set to a haunting piano driven backing score, you could almost argue "Library Hours" plays like a musical montage of sorts. However, the reality is that a very well thought out story is actually playing out before your eyes.
Although moderately graphic in nature, Vendiola presents a tasteful grouping of images that for myself, was more about what you actually didn't see with your eyes. This is the story of two people coming together. An unlikely pairing, to say the least. I could easily go on and on about the erotic nature of this coupling. About the painstakingly inserted details within the cinematography, the framing and the images themselves... but when it's all said and done, all of that is just the dressing poured over the salad. "Library Hours" is about coming together. Experimentation and just maybe... inner healing. I may be reaching a little with that last statement. Then again... maybe not. For all it's complicated imagery, it's erotic nature and that strangely uneasy feeling I got when watching, the story itself is very basic and timeless. Perhaps that "just-right" mix is part of the charm here. Perhaps.
My technical thoughts on this short film are easy to write out, mostly. Some excellent use of lighting and some clever, and at times quite gritty framing, make this a very stylized film. Visually, there were elements of more than a few styles - all co-existing in one production. It was actually really cool to watch and had no problems pushing the story forward.
As I wrote above, "Library Hours" has very little dialog... and by little I mean pretty much none... yet these two woman captured my attention immediately. It is true that the cinematography was designed to showcase these lovely ladies, but good camera work is only as good as the cast in front. The looks and gestures performed by these two woman were perfect. There really is no doubt about that.
When everything was said and done, as I wrote above, I couldn't get rid of that feeling I was missing a key point. I suppose I could write that this was a highlight of the film. Receiving such a strong sense from such a short film. It really bothers me however, since realistically... everything I needed to see - to understand the story... I had no problem seeing. One thing I know? "Library Hours" will not be for everyone. Yet the audience who will be "completely" sucked into this film is growing so damn fast. I'm not just writing story or concept-wise, rather style-wise as well. With so much crap flooding through our screens lately, people are really starting to appreciate the good stuff. If that is, you can actually get some eyes onto the good stuff. That's another story in itself. "Library Hours" should have no problem once the people are tuned in. I wrote this film won't be for everyone, but even those who don't like the concepts will be able to appreciate the quality of work. Something that can't be said for so many recent productions. A solid three and a half stars. Well earned ladies and gents.