Flipping the masculine Wall Street archetype on its head, Whispers Among Wolves follows an alcoholic CEO and her personal assistant as they reopen old wounds, scrutinize their co-dependency, and discover how different their views on love truly are. With quick-witted dialogue and impressive in-camera special effects, writer and director Kevin Lim’s chamber piece explores romance and gender roles through the guise of a workaholic. If you expect to be bored by the simplicity of two actors conversing across a table from one another, you’ll surely reconsider after you watch this. Whispers Among Wolves reminds us that you don’t need to have a myriad of locations and action sequences to keep us entertained so long as you have strong characters and a great story.
For many filmmakers, myself included, believable dialogue that forwards a story is one of the hardest aspects of screenwriting. Not everyone can be Aaron Sorkin, but Kevin Lim may be close, creating scenes with dueling dialogue that reveal the two character’s traits and motivations as they attempt to get on the same wavelength. Lim’s talent for dialogue is even better illustrated with his playful use of language. Between the performances of Sarah Aubrey (Shilo) and Matthew Backer (Teddy), Lim’s characters feel absolutely alive. “She looks like a giraffe trying to solve a complex sudoku puzzle. Put the poor creature out of her misery and drop the facade’,” Shilo draws to which Teddy replies, “What Facade?” A simple question to a colorfully phrased statement, it catapults the business meeting into very intimate territory.
While 90% of the film takes place sitting at a dining table in a fancy restaurant, the film is impressively engaging and visual. Lim elaborated on some of the deceivingly difficult special effects to us, revealing that the flashbacks to the cocktail party were all in-camera scene changes. So while most people may believe there was digital trickery involved in which two separately shot scenes were stitched together, the dining and cocktail party was surprisingly all shot in camera at the same time. The lead actress had to run from one side of the restaurant to the other with a 30 second quick change into a cocktail dress while 20 extras rushed into position. Add four different lighting changes, and you have yourself a party. An impressive feat of blocking, it adds a uniquely theatrical feel to Lim’s storytelling and is certainly worth the payoff.
Lim has been on our radar: we featured Lichen in 2014, and thus were excited when this short came our way. Screening at the Sydney Film Festival, Whispers Among Wolves was nominated for the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films. It has also been screened at Palm Springs International ShortsFest, Flickerfest, and the Hollywood Film Festival. Can Lim keep up this hot streak? He is also currently working on his debut feature film teasing us with, “the DNA is kinda the same – still quippy banter – but it’s a sci-fi mystery combining quantum physics, Haruki Murakami and H.P Lovecraft.” If it’s anything like Wolves, we’re pumped.