Trying EVERYTHING, Trying Nothing

Susanna looks for Meaning

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The movie short Susanna begs viewers to immerse themselves through a series of glossy, fashionable vignettes into the titular character's life. Written by Victoria Dieffenbacher, directed by Michel Jaumin and shot on location in Jacksonville, the movie takes stylistic cues from Nocturnal Animals, The September Issue and, to a lesser extent, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Susanna (Susanna Nelson): young, blonde, Caucasian and beautiful, is always clad in the sartorial equivalent of le mot juste; her wardrobe edges toward glamour and signifies very specific things, from the carefree halter-dress of courtship to the modest but exquisite lace dress of establishment loneliness, to a Grecian-style peignoir for swanning about the house. It is heterosexual drag writ anodyne and suburban-a polished platinum dream-version of a have-it-all-ish life complete with a model-ish career in fashion.

Therein is the rub. The film feels ambiguous: The viewer is never certain if empathy or sympathy is the correct emotional response; or, if like so much glossy but unattainable/sustainable imagery, we are being asked to merely witness the deliberate staging of a life prettily pouted through. There is one scene that offers emotional depth-and so gives more insight into the titular character is as she is "listening" to her friends. Amid the hubbub of what can only be well-intentioned and highly gesticulated advice, one friend-played by actor Suzi West-gazes at Susanna as if she is a younger version of herself while silently seeming to say, "you pay for the material happiness in this life with dissatisfaction and sadness." It the most affective pause in the film, filled with fleeting bitter sweetness.

Susanna has recently been selected for screening at this year's Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York, United Kingdom; it was also selected for the International Fashion Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium; and is being screened here in Jacksonville, 6 p.m. Oct. 5, DeLO Studio, 420 Broad St., Downtown, $15, eventbrite.com.

UPDATE, watch it here:
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/susanna code Is susanna2017

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