Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Low & Clear - A Rich Visual Feast With A Silent Substance

'Low & Clear' is a documentary feature which I had no idea where it was going to go. As a documentary buff I am always willing explore different avenues and let a story take me on a ride I have never experienced before. Documentaries have so much honesty, integrity and they are able to take you to new directions in your mind where you didn't think was possible. When I watched the first 10-15 minutes of this I was really unsure about this. I figured I was going to dislike it heavily because it didn't have much dialogue and the story seemed very vague. But as the documentary progressed I snapped right out of that mentality and wanted to learn more about our two stars JT and Alex and what direction their stories were going to take me. I have watched documentaries on many different issues, and I am always willing to see a side of a particular story that I either don't know a lot about or haven't heard of. In this instance it is about two friends and their passion for fishing and their tension riddled friendship.

JT and Alex are very different in some ways but very similar in others. While their passion for fishing is extreme their reasons for loving this as much as they are can be quite different from one another. JT really lets the viewer know that fishing is his life, and at times he feels it takes over his whole psyche because it is his whole persona, fishing is who he is. And he does make several comments about wanting to go to a deserted cabin with no electricity and all he would live there and just fish all day every day. However he needs to keep reminding himself it isn't just about the fishing, its the environment surrounding him as he fishes, which I think is symbolic that he needs to have a life outside of the fishing ie; spending time with his fiancé. It means so much to him that he really does take it personally if he doesn't catch anything, it makes him feel like a failure, and when is out fishing with Alex and sees him doing better than he is, it just silently infuriates him more. JT doesn't have to say anything to create a slight tension between the pair when they are fishing together by swearing or yelling, his silent annoyance or feeling of failure says it all. Alex on the other hand is a completely different kind of fisherman because he was seen as a legend of fishing and he is now forgotten, and I think deep down that does hurt Alex. It just seems all throughout his life he has wanted attention and approval in this area so he really does milk it for what it is worth, ie; taking a photo every single time he catches a fish. For him I do believe it is self validation for him because as a child he felt like he really had to prove himself to his dad who didn't take him fishing that much even though he wanted to go so much. JT is very happy and content being in his own world and catching fish and that's all it would take to make him happy, whereas Alex seem's very motivated in showing off what he has accomplished with fishing.

The tension between JT and Alex is very gradual throughout the film when they decide to go on a fishing trip with each other. It isn't a vindictive rivalry between the pair, I do believe it is a very silent rivalry. If one of them doesn't catch more fish than the other person then he is considered a failure or not good enough. As their trip continues and JT really isn't having the same luck as Alex, you see him becoming more withdrawn, silent, and maybe a tad bit resentful which definitely boils over in his long silences, and you would have to be an idiot not to notice that. There didn't need to be dialogue to address the rivalry and tension between the pair, you could feel it boil over onto the screen and into your eyes as you watch every minute. While there are the common passion for fishing, their approaches to it are very different, it's just like the Ying and the Yang. Even though the dialogue between the two is extremely simple it's their body language speaks volumes and I believe does most of the talking.

I found the cinematography to be beautiful, there are some big budget films who can't achieve the same quality even with a green screen. When I watched 'Low & Clear' I felt I was watching a beautiful photograph come to life and play out a story for me, it ran deep. Everywhere the camera panned you could just see the wonderful nature, and how different it is to a normal city life. It is tranquil, at times haunting but nothing short of breathtaking. It is extremely hard not to notice the scenery. I also believe it adds to the story especially in JT's case because of his lust for pure isolation in a beautiful environment where it would be him, the fishes, the birds, the trees and the sky. Everything about the scenery and cinematography just go hand in hand and it comes across as very rich and vibrant on screen, it just adds to the mood beautifully.

I enjoyed this documentary immensely, it surprised me, it turned my negative first opinion in the opposite direction, and opened my eyes to other peoples passion, and why they love what they love, and how different they live their lives to others. I think if you pay attention to the mood of the story and understand the relationship between JT and Alex you will be intrigued to know more about them way after the film ends. This isn't about the dialogue, it is about their emotions, their friendship and most of all their passion.

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