There are stories that are told in sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Yet, there are also stories in which words are not needed.
In Julian Sibal’s short film Through the Glass, we meet a man in a café, fidgeting, unsatisfied with his own life, until through the glass window he sees a woman in a red dress, also unsatisfied with hers. He tries to find a way to connect with her through written words, scribbling lines of poetry on piles of paper napkins such as: ‘Let me say hi. | I like your walk. | Your gait is dancing to music. |Unheard music. | I try to not speak | like a poet’. Yet he struggles to find the right words, and fails again and again to muster up the courage to take the first step.
What follows is a timeless story about simple ideas, beautifully done. It is about encountering beauty, finding courage, and making connections. It is about self-expression, looking for the right words, and discovering that poetry is not just simply found in words, but can transcend the boundaries of language.
Through the Glass is shot in classic black and white, with clever manipulation of colour and focus. Red dresses in black-and-white films do not always bode well (think of Schindler’s List), yet in Through the Glass achieve the depiction of desire and contrast. Through the artful construction of cinematography, the film manages to portray a timeless narrative (reminiscent of the silent films of a bygone era) with detailed concision. We never hear spoken dialogue between the two main leads, but the narrative arc is instead cradled by the evocative melody of Peter Lam’s score, which is carefully done to highlight the emotional atmosphere, at times quietly despairing, at times luminously hopeful.
With Through the Glass, we as audience are perhaps encouraged to look through the glass, and find beauty and meaning in life, and find ourselves as well.
Through the Glass will be premiered at the Seal Beach Film Festival next month.