An anti-fairytale about life’s alternate endings.
In 1996, Baz Luhrmann created what would become one of the most well-known film adaptations of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Pairing the quasi-California vibe of its fictional Verona Beach with the English of the playwright’s day, Romeo + Juliet gave us a modern fairytale that was every bit as hip as it was timeless.
But while an instant classic, the film preserved the original material in a time capsule in a way that made it less relevant to audiences both then and now; despite moving the timeline to the then present-day. While the “us” versus “them” ideology prevalent in the story has been a repeating theme across cultures and eras, failing to update the struggles of the Capulet-Montague affair to reflect the deeper socioeconomic climate of the 90s might not have made the film less enjoyable, but did in fact make it less relatable.
With its timely relevant discourse on love in the age of technology, And They Lived is a short film drama about a young woman who opens the pandora’s box of her future self as a wife.
Directed by Javier Espinoza, an LA-based filmmaker whose feature-length debut Distortion: A Social Media Story captures the day-to-day lives of a group of socially disconnected youth, And They Lived acts a cautionary tale about the dangers of idealizing what we see in the media.
It is no mistake that our main protagonist, Vicky, played by Meitar Paz (who is also the film’s writer and producer, also known for Black Spiderman & Ghost Written), is a woman. Like many women, she is not only the prime target for the rom com and ‘chick flick’ market, but also, like the many women who consume such films, are often subliminally taught to carve out their lives around its messages.
Positioning itself as an anti-fairytale, the film juxtaposes Vicky’s fantasy and the reality of her union with beau Will (Martin Gilly) as their relationship disintegrates over time.
As a sophomore effort from filmmaker Javier Espinoza, And They Lived offers us another effective think piece on human interaction in the digital age.
One of its standout features is the film quality. And there is one after party scene in particular that has a gorgeous balance of light and darkness; with flickers of firecrackers beaming in the night.
As the film concludes, what we’re left to think about are the unrealistic expectations that plague married couples (or couples in general) who view love and romance as something that falls into your lap, rather than something you work towards via communication. Love is not created magically upon exchanging vows of intent.
But even before that, we also realize how quickly a snap decision, such as in choosing a longterm partner, can have a negative impact on one’s quality of life. In the film’s world, rushing into things, as is the way of our fast dating, Disney-centric culture, is the complete antithesis of finding happiness.
Lastly, we also inevitably think about how there may be some features of technology that enable these barriers to communication.
And They Lived seems to say that is in seeking love without shortcuts that we can earn our happily ever after…
Indie Rating: 3/5