Themes frequently presented in all artistic adventures are once again visited with an uncommon main character and some very uncommon images. Most of the visuals on The Somnambulist seems to be designed as a tool to leave the viewer surprised and strangely fascinated, but never cross the line that will make them stand up and leave. Two or three minutes have passed and the spectator probably does not know what to expect but will not stop watching either. It is perfect time management playing tug of war with human attention: in a short like this one it is often very hard to find. Between being weirded out and attracted, The Somnambulist sneaks in and shows us we do not need to understand everything that is happening right away. Payoff will come, but enjoy this for now.
The creepy and deranged music track, only present as company to a woman and her apparent breakdown, makes The Somnambulist feel closer to everyday life. More often than not we find ourselves walking through life in complete silence with only noise and sounds of nature or man made metal creatures being the soundtrack to our day. Harmonies in everyday life tend to be disorganized and accidental, instead of having any decoration or aesthetification produced around it. Silence is more true to life than any orchestra playing their best piece.
The twist (although anything and everything can be a twist in such a creative piece), comes at the appropriate time: it’s a surprise, it’s a hit in the face of everyone. It is the fear of age and loss and maybe loneliness that everyone has felt or thought about at least once in their life. It’s a fantasy that can never be fulfilled, like flying with no help of devices. The human is not made to face certain situations, but fiction and creativity can be very useful in this sad game of ‘what if.’ Luckily, we can twist and turn this fertile material to our will, removing the blue parts (or maybe keeping them on purpose, that’s for prolific director Duane Michals to decide).
In a strange scene that comes right after another strange scene, the work of the main character is accurate and exactly what this short needed: a dose of something ordinary but unexpected. The sweetness and love with which the main character speaks, will make the viewer forget the time traveler vibes flowing from him and help anyone watching to feel his soul, to really see him. A tiny but kind voice, directed to a paternal figure can make most people relate in a very deep level. Being smaller than someone else is a frequent experience. The details of the chat will seem ordinary and probably familiar, but the characters are from a different world, a world of dreams and confessions. The dialogues seem a bit too simple, but they don’t stand out, helping the viewers see themselves easily in a situation as impossible as actual time travel. There’s huge merit in that.