Timothée Chalamet has received enough nods to become a household name, recognised by all as a gracefully budding actor. So when I came across his short film Spinners, my curiosity trumped my wariness of the art form. Has he always possessed the same level of talent? There was only one way to find out.
Erik L. Barnes’ 2014 drama focuses on two teenagers, Jace (Timothée Chalamet) and Derek (Ify Nwadiwe), who work as sign spinners in a remote desert town. As the harassment they endure from passing drivers reaches a boiling point, the boys cross paths with a single mother, Breanna (Kristin Slaysman), who simultaneously helps their fury reach its climax, and attempts to halt it.
It’s no small endeavour trying to fit a storyline into thirteen minutes of screen time. However, Spinners navigates cinematography with an acute awareness of its boundaries. Written by Cami Delavigne [Blue Valentine], the film embraces a grim undertone, which is unearthed through the actors’ stellar perfromances. That, and the hissing music composed by Phil Manley, which crackles with anticipation. Its foreboding presence leaps off the actors’ faces.
The sultry closeup shots reveal a drudgery that clashes with the energy of the hyped sign spinners in the 2010 documentary Spinners, stripping our protagonists’ world raw. Interestingly, the film’s story mimics the crawling pace of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, with the same proclivity for vengeance. And even though dialogue takes the back seat in this short film, its crispness heightens the presence of all its other components.