Wow, just wow! I have just watched “Lapse” by Anthony Haden Salerno and… well, I needed a moment to get myself back together. It’s been awhile since I saw a short film that was that well put together, that professional in its technical aspects, and at the same time still conveying its message in the most powerful way.
It’s not the shortest of shorts, but it is well worth the time. In essence, “Lapse” is a piece (not exactly a story) about a journey that a man has to take in order to overcome the burdens of his scarred youth. It is not surprising at all that – as the author states – the plot is loosely based on real events. We see a man who descends into the mouth of madness by repeating his father’s wrongdoings and speeds towards a brick wall of self-destruction in a hope for a cathartic release. I have to say that “Lapse” has a potential to strike a note in nearly every one of us. No-one had a perfect childhood, and even those lucky ones can relate as well. This 30 minute long delusional downward spiral of powerlessness, fear, rage, despair, grief and a need of acceptance and love illustrates perfectly, how every man feels about becoming his own father. To all of us who can relate to the protagonist (be it only slightly) “Lapse” is a powerful reminder that our lives belong to us and it is imperative that we face our demons, remove the shackles of our frailty and break the cycle once and for all.
When it comes to a well-worn topic of a father-son relay of scars, bruises, intimidation and bad choices, it takes skill to make it fresh and vigorous. There are textbooks written about it, after all, and if you look through the history of creative writing, music and cinema, you’ll find that it is in fact a subject beaten to death – sometimes literally.
In that regard, I was bolted to my chair all throughout “Lapse”, got hit in the stomach by its raw approach and I have to admit that it made me stop and think about my own life a little. Clearly, if I were Anthony Haden Salerno, I think this would be the impact I would be going for with a story like “Lapse”. It is a fantastic work of art where every single frame works unison to elevate the film’s message. There’s scarce dialogue, though it’s not needed when the imagery with non-vocal sounds tell the story just as effectively. In fact, I would like to add that sharp and frequent cutting combined with a clever use of close-up photography and its optical traits make “Lapse” look all the more convincing.
I really hope this picture will score some gongs and gain wider recognition, because – as much as it touches on an exploited theme – it valiantly strays away from the beaten path to bring the viewer down to the primal level of man’s incapability to stand up against his (and his father’s) sins. Finally, when a movie makes you feel uneasy about your own shortcomings, I think it’s a job well done. A movie like “Lapse” needs to be cruel and uncomfortable in order to be believable – and it is. The madness is real, the rage is real, the reality is dirty and the tears are salty. Bravo!