Greta is a young girl with her whole life ahead of her and a few decisions to make in the present. Should she become what people expect her too or should she go after what she really wants? Here is our review of Nic Barker.s new film The Greta Fragments.
In 1959 a TV actor named John Cassavetes unleashed his directorial debut on an unsuspecting New York audience. That film was called Shadows and it arguably single-handedly created American independent cinema. Cassavetes had financed the film with his earnings from acting roles and made the film with a cast and crew of novice actors from his drama classes. Filmed in a guerrilla style on the streets with improvised dialogue, mismatched cuts, out of focus shots and out of sync audio, it was unlike anything audiences had ever seen before. What followed was young directors like Martin Scorsese, realising that there were no more excuses for aspiring filmmakers anymore. “If Cassavetes can do it, so could we” and the urgency that followed ‘Shadows’ cult success inspired a movement of committed directors and producers who would go on to change the face of cinema forever.
Australian director Nic Barker’s back catalogue has carried the spirit of Cassavetes throughout all of the projects he has embarked upon and his new 10-minute short film The Greta Fragments is no exception. A character study about a group of youngsters in their 20’s - the time in all of our lives when we feel the need to find ourselves and our place in the world. ‘Fragments’ is an interesting film that tells us a bit about love, loss and then love again.
Although it may avoid a conventional plot, ‘Fragments’ is hardly uninterested in its story The narrative evolves naturally from the characters, their circumstances and in Greta (played brilliantly by Honor Wolf)- a female character of our times. Greta feels very real and very modern. During the short, she comes across as confident, yet nervous, idealistic but also cynical. We find out is that she had a boyfriend whom she was happy with but dumped in order to experience life outside of the relationship. This was not done in a nasty or vindictive way, but simply because she needed space to help her decide what she really wants from life. We learn from her conversations about what she has been up to and, whether you agree or not, it certainly helps her find herself, but in doing so it also damages what has gone before.
When it comes to the writing, it is credited to all the actors as it is their improvisations that are the basis of the script. Each one of the cast members are superb and watching these talented actors giving such strong performances makes me so angry that numbers of talentless people get careers and celebrity from their downright terribly ‘improvised’ TV reality shows.
Filmed beautifully in black and white ‘Fragments’ is stylishly shot by director Nic Barker. There isn’t a great deal of movement to focus on but he manages to keep us interested with quick cuts and close-ups. The performances help as does the colour scheme to create a sense of intimacy which is perfect for the film. We don’t so much become audience members watching things unfold but more like actual friends of the characters and we feel part of their clique. This was also a feature of the aforementioned Cassavetes’ work when the immediacy and realness on show, conveyed the illusion of actual truth. Barker has taken a simple tale of identity and pushed it down to the level where these things really do happen and we can all remember a time when they did.
There are obvious romantic overtones in the film, but they are trivial and virtually inconsequential to the larger world. After a while, the progression of Greta’s relationships becomes far less important than the person she wants to become. What is happening between Greta and her boyfriend has happened before and it will happen again, but the person she was may never be the same. What Barker’s film is concerned with are the fragments of Greta’s battle between her heart and her head, a sense of duty to a sense of ambition. She is an ordinary person with an ordinary dilemma and life as it happens is a never-ending roller coaster of meaningless triumphs and, more often than that, predictable disappointments.
In just over 9 minutes Barker has made a film that tenderly and honestly examines the way we really live and some of the important individual decisions we have to make on our journey towards adulthood.