Short Film Review: Random People

Lacking a distinct narrative, Random People, a Filipino short film directed by Arden Rod Condez, is a curious work. It opens with the striking sound of wind and waves hitting the shore, and the image of an older couple seated close to each another, watching the sea and chatting. However, they are not the central characters of the film. In fact, Random People is built as a string of numerous intimate scenes of different couples. And so, after a couple's moment has passed, another duo takes centre stage. The slightly rounded edge of the film’s aspect ratio serves as a subtle reminder that the viewer is ultimately watching a video, and the opening title card, informing the viewer that the film is ‘deliberately unsubtitled’, keeps the viewer away from any semblance of a narrative. Yet, despite this lack of interest in presenting a story, the film still flows nicely, largely due to the prevailing theme of intimacy. 

Made during these uncertain times, Random People appeals to some form of pre-covid era nostalgia where the couples on screen clearly have social distancing as the last things on their mind. In one scene, we see a cheery couple in embrace, and in another, a somewhat sexually charged couple locking lips. The affection displayed here is very personal to the point where it could feel a little voyeuristic, and also, because they are set without context, these scenes feel mundane and uneventful as well. Devoid of drama, the people on screen seemingly live within a simplistic intimacy where only the intimacy between people, their affection to one another and the simple everyday spaces remain. 

While certainly, the lack of a story or a sense of conflict can make for a rather uneventful watch, the film’s embracement of this seemingly simplistic and romanticised rendition of pre-covid times during our present-day troubles makes for a pleasant but temporary space of rest. Random People is a very calming experience, the simplicity of the scenes and the warmth of the seemingly unconditional love of the couples provides a welcome tranquillity. Still, with the entire film being made out of intimate scenes, the repetition of affection does get rather monotonous quickly. Thankfully, the film is relatively short with a runtime of about six minutes and there is some tonal variety in the film’s depictions of intimacy. 

Concluding, there is not much else to say about the short film Random People for ultimately it is in essence, like its title, a string of scenes of random people being intimate with one another. But right now, it is certainly an appreciated response to our current period of turbulence. It turns away from our collective conflict of the present day and instead focuses on a seemingly uncomplicated lifestyle. It yearns for and recreates a romanticised past where love and physical intimacy is the central and only focus. It is a short, uneventful but comforting experience.

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