Every now and then a hitherto unknown work, by a departed master of their craft, greets the light of day. Fortunately for all, Frank Howson in particular, we have not had to wait for Howson’s physical demise to enjoy this gem of a short film, “A Thin Life.”
After strong encouragement from MUFF Fest Director, Richard Wolstencroft, Howson and editor, Gary Robertson, fashioned 20 year old uncut negatives into this beguiling tale of isolation, paranoia and dissipation. Filmed in the moribund days of Howson’s company, Boulevard Films, “A Thin Life” is the perfect meeting place for Howson’s gift with dialogue to be enriched by Tommy Dysart’s ability to layer dialogue with deeper and deeper nuance.
Howson is a sublime wordsmith. His great strength is in never rubbing the nose of his audience in his cleverness. His words always display respect for the intelligence of others and allow for interpretation. Passive slumber will not open the fullness of Howson’s offering. Stay open to the moment portrayed on the screen and its depth will reward you.
“All the tea in Romania. All the brains in New Zealand. All the coconut ice on a lamington.” As spoken by Dysart’s forlorn character, these absurd images play with our prejudices to the point where you question if you heard it correctly.
Shot in 3 days, Tommy Dysart’s performance is truly remarkable when you understand he learned his lines on set. His delivery lives where ability and uncertainty collide.
Dysart’s character is a decayed and desiccated mess of a man. He is closed to the present and his recollections are questionable on any level you may choose. One wonders how reliable a witness he is to his own life.
“A Thin Life” hopefully will find its audience. Mainstream it won’t be. Howson demands way too much from the audience for that. No music, other than melancholy piano at the intro and outro, to help jolly the observer along. Almost no action. No interplay between characters. The only olive branch Howson provides is a glimpse of feminine beauty, both clad and naked.
A sparse set, Howson’s beautiful facility with words, and Dysart’s powerful physical and aural presence is what you are offered to go on this journey. Believe me, it’s a journey more than worth the price of its ticket.
“A Thin Life” by “Shifty Brothers Production.”
Written and directed by Frank Howson
Edited by Gary Robertson
Cast: Tommy Dysart. Connie Fortis
Incidental Music: Warren Wills. Song by Kole Dysart
Filmed: John Wheeler
“A Thin Life” opened this year’s MUFF Festival. Tommy Dysart won the award for Best Actor in a Short Film.
The film went down a hoot at the opening.
Look out for it!!!
Another work by Frank Howson, the musical chronicling the life of Bobby Darin “Dream lover” opens in Sydney October 6.
Look out for it!!!