People look at me funny when I say I like romantic movies. I think they find it odd that someone who listens to Trent Reznor’s back catalogue on a regular basis can enjoy a romantic movie. But I fear they’ve gotten romantic and romantic comedies mixed up. A romantic film will often take you through an emotional roller-coaster and leave you with a bittersweet ending. Romantic comedies, however, present you with two of the worst human beings trying to get together.
Graffiti is a love story, a romantic short film with a difference. It’s also a film that gives you very few answers to what you think are questions.
Set seven years after an unspecified (though possibly nuclear) event in the snow covered ruin of a city, lone survivor Edgar (Oriol Pla) spends his days graffiti tagging buildings as either safe or dangerous, hunting down supplies with his dog, and masturbating to billboards (not with his dog). The tedium of his existence is shattered when he returns home to find the word “hello” graffitied on the inside wall of his shelter. As the film progresses, Edgar strikes up a friendship with the first human contact he has had in years, a girl called Anna who leaves messages for him when he is out scavenging among the rubble. Eventually Edgar’s infatuation becomes more than just contact with another human and he develops romantic feelings for Anna. In the end, Edgar must make the ultimate choice between a person he has never met and the chance of getting out of the city.
What Graffiti does, better than most feature films, is convey both story and depth through the simplest narrative means possible. In fact, the story of Graffiti would break down and fall apart over the course of a feature film. There is barely any dialogue; every conversation is spray painted on a wall; there are so many questions and so few answers. We never find out what the event was and slowly it becomes merely the background to Edgar’s character. The film shows that he is intelligent, resourceful, and utterly alone. Through the mise en scène, the crafting of what’s on screen, we have a man swallowed up among the ruins of a city until he is just a tiny figure in a long shot behind some broken wall. Isolated and alone with no human company, it makes us question if Anna is a real person and not some figment of Edgar’s mind. We never see or have any trace of Anna beyond her messages, whose handwriting looks remarkably like Edgar’s.
A minimalistic fantasy love story told with nearly no dialogue that raises more questions that it answers, Graffiti is full of emotional and mental highs.
Dir: Lluis Quilez
Scr: Lluis Quilez, Javier Gullon
Cast: Oriol Pla
Prd: Lluis Quilez, Ester Velasco, Cristian Guijarro
DOP: Isaac Vila
Music: Arnau Bataller
Runtime: 30 minutes