SXSW (Short) Review: NOT INTERESTED
Driving down any typical American suburban street — passing one front door after another, all lined up in perfect geometric harmony – a question crosses my mind… What exactly goes on beyond that door? Who are these people? What are their lives really like? Not the performances they put on for the rest of us to see, but their “real” lives.
My apologies, as I got off on a bit of a tangent, but this question resurfaced as I watched D.W. Young’s newest short film NOT INTERESTED. There’s an element of this curiosity that seeps through the surface of the story. D.W. Young is probably best known for his 2008 award-winning documentary A HOLE IN THE FENCE and his last short film AMI UNDERGROUND.
NOT INTERESTED is a fairly straightforward story about a clueless slacker who sells… no, sorry… he “demonstrates” a fabulous line of high-end cutlery, door to door. The Salesman (Khan Baykal) arrives at his appointment’s nice suburban home in a pathetic jalopy, finishing his joint before approaching the client’s door. Half-stoned and oblivious to his surroundings, The Salesman knocks diligently until Ms. Samuels (Leslie Hendrix) answers the door. The Salesman proceeds with his pitch and Ms. Samuels proceeds with a persistent, yet awkward, string of repetitive answers.
The meat and potatoes of NOT INTERESTED, which runs a mere 8 ½ minutes in length, is the interaction between The Salesman and Ms. Samuels. Something about this encounter just isn’t quite right. There’s a bit of a mystery for the audience to sort out, but once they do its all about witnessing the event unfold and waiting for the outcome.
NOT INTERESTED has a touch of dark humor, but its primarily a subtle venture into the comedy of the absurd. The Salesman is something of a stereotype, as is Ms. Samuels, but she’s got an intensity to her that makes the audience suspect something is off. The Salesman presents more of a frustrating annoyance, completely unaware of the heroism that is implied upon him.
This is a short film that truly takes a tiny moment, a microscopic sliver of life, and dissects it so that the audience has the pleasure of fully digesting the intricacies of the moment these two characters share. That’s what makes NOT INTERESTED such a cool piece of cinema. Not a big budget, special effects or some elaborately complex and impossible puzzle story for the audience to try and piece together before it ends… its just a moment in time between two people, albeit a very strange and ultimately life-altering moment.