In our short film we employed several different characteristics that are typical of film noir that we have discussed over the course of the semester in order to create our own distinctly “noir” film. Our approach to this was really to pile as many noir elements into the story as we could, which perhaps was not the best thing to do. I think it would have been better for the narrative to focus strongly on one or two elements instead of a bunch. That way, we could make sure we were doing justice to those specific noir elements and build around them. The corruption theme within our film seemed particularly forced and we were unable to create enough of a backstory for the characters Julia or Richard to make it work convincingly.
In spite of these problems, we did have several elements that worked out pretty well considering our time and experience restraints. One element was our use of voiceover. Voiceover is a very typical characteristic of film noir, used most notably in the classic noir film Double Indemnity. Voiceover is an easy way to convey information and I think we used it well to convey the backstory as well as Brian’s thoughts and feelings towards Julia and the situation she had gotten him into. As J. P. Telotte writes in “Noir Narration,” “in this [technique of voiceover], the narrative can insert some significant information from the past or set up a context for present events…” (15). In our case, the voiceover functioned as both a way to show significant information from the past, such as Julia’s, Richard’s and Brian’s relationships to each other and to give context as to why Brian was holed up in his room staring at a blank television screen.
The femme fatale character also worked well enough, though I think having more screen time to build up her backstory and deviousness would have been beneficial. Though it wasn’t entirely clear that Julia really used her sexual appeal to manipulate the men around her, she still exhibited a key characteristic of film noir femmes fatales: her ambition and ruthless in order to achieve it. As Dickos writes in “Women as Seen in the Film Noir”, “three things motivate the femme fatale: a lust for exciting sex, a desire for wealth and the power it brings, and a need to control everything and everyone around her” (162). Our character Julia doesn’t portray a lust for exciting sex, nor especially a desire for wealth, but she does have a need to control everyone around her. I believe we exemplified this pretty well, as she is pulling both male characters along on strings throughout the entire lab scene and again in Brian’s apartment. She knows what she is doing and, as long as she is in control, she has no qualms about it. Although it would have been more convincing if we had shown more of Julia’s backstory, I think we pulled off an adequate femme fatale character.
Our film really helped me to zero in on what we believe noir to be, and figure out how to write and tell a convincing noir story, as well as put a set together in a noir style.