Enigmatic “Thanks”

Review by Lew Antoine

Roy Shellef has taken an ill-fated date and turned it into a work of art.

“Thank You,” written & directed by Shellef, is a simple story of a nervous fellow landing a date with a stunning young woman who – we get the feeling from him and from the clever camera work of Shellef – is out of his league. Sounds funny? In the hands of Shellef and his team, it is a beautiful visual poem.

At the start, we are immersed in a noir (down to the shadowing black & white photography) world of a self-deprecating Ryan (Thato Mothobi) preparing for his date with an enigmatic young woman. Mothobi’s deep and culture voice and his ironically characteristic presence allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the red herring that he is charming. The entrance of his date, Laura (played with bewitching allure by Chantal Casutt) sets in motion a contradiction that makes the film captivating. The noir turned to color like in the Wizard of Oz yet the imagery and angles (including the deaths-head graffiti sharing the screen with Laura during her entrance) entice us to follow like a puppy dog – like Ryan. Credit for this eerie-cold-noir-evening-world just before a storm goes grandly to Albina Kim whose vision offers a claustrophobic world hiding a vast surreal one right behind the darkness.

While the narration reads like a Philip Marlowe story, the exchange between then in the restaurant is bumpy and unsure with faux pas after faux pas emanating from Ryan’s mouth. Casutt displays a physical charm of a world woman but the voice of a young girl just as excited about this date. The choice to offer this contract made their exchange that much more engrossing. Their clumsy good night became an ironic juxtaposition of the entire film. The message of the piece, like the plot itself, was simple, yet earthshaking in its importance.

Lavishly produced by Rinati Rokach & Shellef, this indie film looks like a major studio had a hand in it from its cinematography to editing to music to casting and setting.

To look at this well-done short film quickly, it’s about a date. But if you read between the lines and delve, is it a date with destiny?


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