Disillusioned (Short Film) (2011)

17 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

An aspiring magician (Seth Savoy) believes that the best magicians perform flashy tricks/illusions, instead of the simpler, more subtle ones he can do easily. While working at a magic shop, he constantly attempts to perform complicated tricks to customers. Unfortunately, he tries too hard and can’t seem to get them to work the way his idol, theatrical illusionist Ace Manhattan (Mark Cluvane), can. So his boss (Derrick Rose) tries to convince the boy it doesn’t take big magic to impress an audience. Upon ultimately meeting Manhattan face-to-face, he begins to see that fame isn’t everything.

The idea of a young man wanting to perform something bigger with his talent, and then realizing maybe settling for what he can do best (something smaller) is the best thing for him, isn’t really new. But it is welcome, and does make for some satisfying coming-of-age comedy/dramas. I must admit I’ve never seen it done with magic before, which is the case for “Disillusioned,” a 7-minute short film written and directed by Kim Risi. The result is an interesting, nicely-done short comedy.

I’ve always been a fan of magic. When I was a kid, I would perform the little ball-and-cup trick to my friends and family because it was the only trick I was able to pull off. The reaction I got still satisfies me, and so I would sometimes look into more tricks and wonder how the bigger, more complicated illusions were done. Even as I got older, I still enjoyed going to the occasional magician-workshop at certain events (a Baptist convention, particularly). Some things never get old. But I digress. Anyway, that’s why “Disillusioned” appealed to me, not only in the story’s metaphor that the message mentioned above doesn’t amount to just magic (but also to filmmaking, for those who thought I was just a film critic), but because of the comic ways in which the struggling magician attempted to free himself from handcuffs in five seconds or a straitjacket in 10. The disappearing ball works every time; try it sometime (but after a little practice first).

Not much acting is required in “Disillusioned,” but the one who really steals the show is Mark Cluvane, who is (for lack of a better word) amazing as Ace Manhattan. How do I properly describe his subtly manic portrayal of a flashy magician? I’m not convinced I can, so I’ll just state that he’s hilarious here.

(It was also an effective move to cast Seth Savoy who knew very little about magic, and Derrick Rose and Mark Cluvane who are both skilled magicians. Rose/Cluvane’s experience and Savoy’s inexperience make each magic-trick scene seem more or less real.)

“Disillusioned” may be somewhat predictable, but it is an appealing short film with some effective funny moments (the over-the-top commercial for Ace Manhattan is utterly hilarious), a neat motif with the soundtrack (classical music that shadows the opposite of Savoy’s character’s belief that “people don’t want classical music; they want rock n roll”), and an admittedly welcome-and-effective moral about selflessness.

NOTE: The film can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/27359862

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