Open Mike – Tobias Erdmann (UK)
Short Film Competition
Name: Desislava Lyapova
The title says it all – Mike (Chris Martin) needs to open up. To flourish, to explore, to use his energy and personality. That is only possible, however, when a breaking point is reached.
Life defined by time – an issue skillfully problematised and developed in just sixteen minutes by exposing a lifestyle all of us follow, and some, to the extent in which Mike does. It is the mundane activities that consume us, it is the routine that defines us. What are we without them? What makes us change? What happens when we are not running along with time?
Director Tobias Erdmann successfully explores and answers these questions in a film ‘made on a budget of sausage rolls and pizza’ as he jokes while introducing it. He adds that the music in the film plays a vital part and contributes to the representation of the unique art scene in Glasgow.This is made obvious by Mike’s constant returning to the same pub, where customers occasionally perform on an improvised stage. It strikes us as odd that a person like Mike, who plays with cards and a box of cut-up words from newspapers, would spend his nights in such a lively place. Yet he abstains from indulging himself in the atmosphere: his seclusion is emphasized by his portrayal among others, he constantly rearranges his words but never speaks out, he hears everyone but prefers to stay silent. Mike is an engaging character, who evokes our sympathies, and we do not struggle to identify with him, mainly due to his presence in every scene and his quiet observation of his surroundings.
In the end, Mike does find the answer. He plays and sings While I was waiting for you with the clear realization that he is now ready to act, to change, to stop waiting. Most importantly, he is prepared to leave his box of words behind – his regret, loneliness, waiting, his time.
The film is a convincing endeavor in portraying solitude and companionship, habits that keep us stuck rather than alleviate our lives and a newly found freedom that may or may not have an expiry date. Open Mike is an art piece absorbing in its simplicity.