A moody, existential portrait of life told through the perspective of a fly, director Laurence Vannicelli’s The Young Housefly is definitely a unique cinematic experience. Oddly enough, we have seen shorts featuring a romance between woman and insect before. But, unlike Jonathan Langager’s Josephine and the Roach, The Young Housefly isn’t a whimsical experience. Rather, it’s a visceral one—think Aronofsky, not Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
We often highlight story as the most important aspect of the films we select for Short of the Week, and admittedly, that’s not why we selected The Young Housefly, as, well, you sort of can tell where this film is going to end up pretty early on. Rather, we think Vannicelli deserves a lot of credit for harnessing such an interesting concept and complementing it with stylistic panache. The film is predicated on a gimmick to be sure (i.e. it’s told entirely from the perspective of a housefly, his inner monologue told through voiceover). But, it’s incredibly well-executed—a feast of sensory goodness.
As Vannicelli relates to Short of the Week, “Pairing the voice of a literary outcast (in the tradition of marginalized, embittered characters like those in Dostoyevsky, etc) with an opulent, expressionistic camera became its aesthetic core. It was a shitload of fun to make.”
Conveying senses (other than visual ones) via film is always an incredible difficult task. But, Vannicelli really nails it with Housefly, crafting a figurative ballet of cinematic techniques that is both impassioned, yet slightly gross (I mean that in a good way). It’s a film that takes the senses that are often given short shrift cinematically—sound and touch especially—and translates them seamlessly into the viewing experience. This is all orchestrated over a passionate, memorable voiceover performance from short film regular, Alex Karpovsky. Seriously, it’s great to see an actor with indie clout like Karpovksy appear in so many awesome short films.
“Her breath was moist and sweet….like day old coffee cake.”
Beyond the film’s strong technical execution, the short’s existential message provides depth—Housefly probes at the cycle of life and what that means for various organisms. How long is a life span? 80 years for a human? A week for a housefly? Time is relative, after all, and so is one’s perspective of the universe. We are all just animals: we are born, we eat, we procreate, we die. And, so the film’s ending is both melancholic, but also a stark reminder of the indifference of nature. One little fly’s amorous feelings towards a human are largely meaningless. Kudos to the film’s writer, Sonya Goddy, for giving the film these narrative layers. She is currently in post production on her first feature film, Holy New York.
Likewise, Vannicelli has a lot of exciting things on the horizon. He too recently finished his first feature film, Vera, which will premiere later this year. He is also in pre-production on his next feature, La Certa, which is a dark comedy about old people and sex set in Italy. Although he has to keep details mum, Vannicelli has recently cast a major talent to be a part of the film. We’re excited to watch!