Student Film Festival – Short Film Review

The classics. You simply must watch the classics. No matter how many of them are forced onto our watchlist there’s seemingly no end to how many more we just have to see. God save the cinephiles of the future who have to endure a never ending cascade of ‘Top 100’ lists. What Blue Ruby ensures us, however, is that it’s creator has been going through the classics, and recently too. In fact the filmmakers entire morale for making the film has to be questioned. The opening titles aren’t flashed over a superfluous rotating camera, the fights are fought verbally not physically and the script offers no nudity or sensuality. It appears this has been made by an alien. 


Blue Ruby has a simple enough concept; two lovers quarrelling in Paris. Hugo and Audrey Bonavich are intelligent, charismatic and pretentious. Hugo (Andrew Foster) is a writer, leafing through the foreword of his own book and whining about it. He bears a striking resemblance to Sir Keir Starmer, if Keir Starmer shopped at Paul Smith. Audrey (Jo Ball)  sits rigidly trying to win his attention and hopefully his affection. She tries to doodle something on his book and he vehemently rejects her. As a rule he does not allow any graffiti upon his books, not just his own works. The film is littered with this style of gentle, elderly humour. It’s not knee slappingly funny but it certainly puts a smile on your face.

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You couldn’t be blamed if this sounds like the new Woody Allen feature. Noah Stratton Twine understands the crucial, barebones element of writing characters for the screen that cinema sometimes forgets. The characters are there to contrast one another. But they’re not throwing chairs or food. As much as we’d all like to see these sixty year olds enact violence on each other, this is a film that depicts the micro aggressions in conversation. You can’t be with someone for thirty years without having your own unique, sniping language. The Bonaviches may well have been plucked straight from couples come dine with me; patronising their guests and bickering over bourguignon. 


Aesthetically the film is deliciously simple; Eliott Poyzer shoots very comfortably. We linger on a wide, cut closer for impact and return to the wide after a riposte. After a few of these shots the goofish star of the film reveals herself, Clem the Waitress (Sarah Bauer). Whilst our establishing shot, script and mise en scene reference Paris directly, we still need to be physically sold on the idea that we are actually in a french cafe. She completes that idea. A shy, wide-eyed young woman who carries herself as such. Her movement, speech and body language tell us she’s excited to be alive. She is enough to break Hugo down from his pretentious self and engage in the primal flirtations that make him feel alive. She admires Hugo’s writing and at the merest sign of genuine interest he is transformed. He gifts her his personal copy of his book whilst his wife isn’t nearby; thus satisfying his own sense of ego in this act of kindness, even going so far as to liken Clem to a haiku ‘Short and sweet.’ Clem’s naive sensibility does also land her into the middle of the lovers quarrel. Once Audrey returns to the table, Hugo reverts back to the snobbish husband we know him to be. Audrey’s bestowment of a bookmark on their anniversary only spells out doom for Hugo. The entire time he’s been thinking about his legacy, he has ignored what is only the worst nightmare for the betrothed, to forget your anniversary. One only has to see any of the directors previous films to guess how this could end. 


The vintage sound and score of the film help cement these characters into the monochromatic world of classic cinema, the film, acting as more of a postcard to the past than a bold new tour de force. Blue Ruby may be a comedy of errors but what it minimises in comedy, it maximises in heart. The film has but one truly tender moment and it revels in it, searing us like cringing steaks. Staying on brand, Cedar Roost is not putting out films for the hyper masculine or the liberal elite. This is a thick, fruity wine for the bohemian romantic…Where the real money is.


You can watch Noah Stratton-Twine’s ‘Blue Ruby’ here: BLUE RUBY on Vimeo

Reveiwed by Olliver Ward


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