I recently had the chance to see Dan Difelice & Salomon Ligthelm’s new film, “Anomaly”. I’ve attached the synopsis below.
Set against the space-race canvas of the 1960’s, Anomaly is inspired by the traditional Christmas Nativity and explores, through a modern-day lens, the events of two-thousand years ago. It is a story about relationships that intertwine around an unprecedented astronomical event, as a couple navigate life’s realities at a time of unfathomable significance. Filmed on location in NYC, Maine, Kansas, and Colorado, the film features Christian Cooke, Lexi Johnson, Andrew Sensenig, and Anthony Lopez.
My initial reactions upon first viewing was that the set dec, vfx, unique story structure and cinematography were great. The style was extremely unique and the entire project was well executed. This film also did a great job jumping through storylines and time, especially the interplay between scenes that can be seen at the 12 minute mark. However, as much as I loved the execution of the film, there were a few things that didn’t totally sit with me perfectly which included the ‘I’m late’ scene, the character development and the heavy focus on plot.
First off, let’s talk about the good:
Much like most of the work Khalid produces, the cinematography was amazing. The man sure loves his soft light. This style played well with the tone of this piece. I really like the choice of colour shifts between key scenes.
Great use of visuals to tell a story.
Shot composition and pacing played a huge role in driving the story forward without the need for additional dialog. The power of this film was the lack of dialog to drive the story. I think the film was successful because it was able to push this story forward without spoon-feeding the audience.
Unique story structure.
Inter-cutting between time, location and voice was done seamlessly. Heavily influenced by Terrence Malick, Difelice & Ligthelm were able to craft the narrative using a poetic voice-over that reinforced the visuals presented on-screen. It was nice to see it used to bridge gaps in scenes.
The two best examples were at 14:54 and 31:00. At 14:54, the frustration of pregnancy is also seen in the space ship when no one hears his calls. This is a great way to not only build the tension of each scene but use the tension built-in each to play off each other. It really helped connect with the emotion present. As for the section at 31:00, they did the same thing with the birth and with the space ship shaking.
Great sound design & visual style.
What brought everything together with this film was the sound design and visual style. Nothing felt forced and these elements were not obtrusive.
Now before I get into the bad, let me say first that this film was great and there are many aspects I will draw inspiration from. These comments below are points that I believe would make the film stronger from my personal point of view.
The ‘I’m late’ scene.
This scene (21:20) felt forced. In my opinion, not only was there no need for the dialog in this scene, I also feel that there wasn’t a huge need for Dr.Noel Fitz’s wife. Although it was nice to see the interplay with his wife and the fact that he is obsessed with his work, I think this could have been shown in other more creative ways. By simply including the scene at the end of the film where he visits her grave, I feel they would have been able to get the same aspects of his character across.
Although the story-structure and evolution was great, I felt the character development was thin. It was a great ‘look into a slice of someone’s’ life but the viewer doesn’t get to care about the characters. The focus of this development was mostly on the emotion present in each of these relationships which was a great – new approach.
I felt that the film was heavily focused on plot and less on character development. This was definitely not a bad thing but I think something that both Difelice & Ligthelm will address in future work.
Anomaly is a great example of what can be produced when a strong team is assembled. This film was produced on a budget around $60K that was funded through a Kickstarter campaign.
Overall, a great piece of art by a very strong team. Can’t wait for the next one!