Set in a small upstate town of Troy, New York, TABLEAU describes one filmmaker’s lofty pursuit of actualizing his cinematic vision by summer’s end. With the help of his teenage neighbor, Chelsea (Kaya Lieberman) and her best friend, Gina (Jeanna Goldsmith), the main character JT (Joshua Thorson) engages viewers in a personal and humorous first look at realizing his goal. The opening scene presents the filmmaker swimming, inviting viewers along for an up-close and heartfelt journey.
Viewers catch a glimpse of JT’s post-apocalyptic and futuristic project in the film, which revolves around a remote civilization’s quest for survival. One highlight of TABLEAU was watching the parallel of JT’s fantasy production with the actual film, and the overlapping story lines and dual visions. Shifting back and forth between the two films added a layered effect, where one can see the characters elegantly in their normal lives, as well as alongside the fictional parts they play in JT’s filming attempt.
For the most part, the timing and pace of TABLEAU is brief and efficient and the short film (18:43 min) is able to keep your attention without too many wasted moments; however, some parts were a little slow, yet, overall you grow to like the characters and become quite fond of watching them evolve together. The subtle attention to the details in the film seem to work noticeably well in telling the story in an engaging and captivating way. Most notable to me, was the film’s artistic direction, including the cinematography, and creative costume and set designs, as well as the accompanying musical background which easily sets the tone and mood of the film, without having to resort to extraneous words or any additional sense of overdoing.
On the downside, while most of the dialogue in the film seemed believable, some lines were a little cliche. In addition, some of the transitional moments between scenes worked wonderfully well, while others felt a bit abrupt and disjointed, which in some ways, could have been created purposefully as the main character, JT, is a little unsettled and scattered himself, even if in endearing way. At the very least, the technique did seem to reinforce the lead’s portrayal.
The short film provides viewers with an intimate portrayal of not only JT, but also the surrounding cast around him, highlighting his daily musings and mental state in a thorough and lighthearted way. Where the art and creativity shines through in this film, is where the film shines most to me.
Overall, there is a cohesive feel and theme in TABLEAU, as the film plays itself out in a human and relateable way, demonstrating the internal and external struggles of a filmmaker, as well as any artist or creator, where one desperately seeks to find that creative spark that drives manifestation. This film discovers a touch of that creativity and turns it into an inspiring piece that delivers both emotionally and visually.
JT, is a filmmaker in a small post-industrial town with big ideas about the future, the far-off future. He struggles to express his Utopian SciFi vision, but is thwarted, in part by his own ambitions. He finds an unlikely alliance with the neighborhood girls. At first the teens are antagonistic to this thoughtful auteur, but they develop a shared language and become his muses along with his own toy poodles. Tableau toggles back and forth between JT's daily awkwardness and his grand and at times pretentious cinematic vision. Tableau explores the space of creative thought and ideas of domestic vs wildness.