“Simone” took me a little off-guard. Truth be told, I didn't expect it to be as good as it is. As a film critic, I find it difficult to admit that I may have had some preconceived thoughts about Joops Fragale's “Simone”. The trailer suggested a sort of erotic horror film; however, crammed into not much more than a 15 minute run-time, I was uncertain what calibre of film to expect. Now, in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, I will admit that forming an early unwarranted opinion is not a practice a film critic should often find themselves performing... More importantly, however, I can get beyond any preconceived notions and admit when I was wrong. “Simone” is a hell of a short.
After waking half-naked in a strangers bed, Simone finds herself hungover and struggling to recollect the events of the previous night. Finding herself about to vomit, she makes her way to the bathroom, and, after what seems to be the result of too much alcohol the night before, she nearly vomits into the sink. However, the only thing she manages to expel from her system is not vomit at all, only a clump of bloody human hair.
Yup, it's gross... And that's only the beginning. I will however, mention no more, as the film's strongest aspect is it's structure. The story progresses primarily through the use of flashbacks, as Simone recalls the previous night's events. This non-linear format is to the audience's benefit, as our experience mirrors that of the titular character throughout the duration of the entire film.
Perfectly complimenting the films disoriented structure is Fragale's sure-handed grasp on the directorial reigns. From the opening scene which is shot mildly out of focus, suggesting Simone's disorientation upon waking, to the flashback sequences which are often just fractions of scenes cut together in a fashion which allows us to start to make sense of what's happening, but nothing quite makes complete sense... That is, until the film's conclusion, which admittedly, made me jump... All three times I watched it. You simply can't help but be impressed by how well Joops Fragale's directorial style works within the confines of Frazer Lee's script.
“Simone” is the kind of film that reenforces what I love so much about independent film, and is an excellent example of what differentiates a good, or even great film, from a film that is simply average, or worse. A director truly understanding the material he is filming is the most important factor, I believe, in crafting an effective short film. This is especially true when working with a another's script. Joops Fragale understands how to effectively translate a film from script to screen; his potential behind the camera is immense, and I look forward to having the opportunity to see whatever he and 386 films will offer us in the future.
I will offer one last comment – Upon my first viewing of “Simone”, I couldn't help but draw comparisons between this film and Steven Shea's “2:22”. And while I won't go into detail in this review, there are certain similarities between the two films. After watching “Simone” a second time, however, I have disregarded any direct relation between the two, as “Simone” is an incredibly enjoyable work in its own right, and the comparisons between the two films have not affected this review.