Forget About Everything for Awhile

Forget About Everything for Awhile ★★★

I’ve said this about Joel Haver’s work before, and I won’t hesitate to say it again. I don’t know how he manages to do it, but Haver’s character work is simply phenomenal. There are few filmmakers who are able to capture the essence of a human being without resorting to snarky, sarcastic dialogue where everyone quips and sounds the same as one another. The dialogue is awkward, unpolished, and full of natural pauses and interruptions. Seeing that this film, along with many others from his filmography, was improvised, I’m not sure I should attribute this praise to the performances or the fact that Haver clearly knows what he’s looking for when it comes to filmmaking. Haver manages to make every character in his works feel individually distinct from one another and wholly unique. Perhaps I’ve chosen the wrong film to hammer home this point seeing that Forget About Everything for Awhile only contains two characters, but my point still stands, nobody can create authentic characters and capture the human condition quite like Joel Haver.

The other aspect of filmmaking that Haver nails is cinematography and shot composition. One element in particular that stands out to me in Forget About Everything for Awhile is the lack of a close-up. This goes relatively unnoticed, but really allows the audience to take in the framing of a dialogue-heavy shot (and also contributes to Haver’s ability to craft a feeling of isolation and loneliness) while also allowing you to appreciate the excellent performances of the leads. In doing so, audiences also become isolated from truly knowing what the characters are thinking and feeling (which the implementation of a close-up traditionally allows for), even after the final moments of the film. The excessive wide shots place the film’s audience into the world with the characters rather than into the minds of the characters.

Really, my only gripe with the film (and many of Haver’s films for that matter) is how he chooses to pace them. While I’m all for slow, introspective, and meditative character pieces, I can’t say that I feel as though the film justifies its runtime. Many scenes feel as though they could have been shortened or would have worked better as one of his weekly short films. Despite my negativity, I do appreciate seeing a director choose to make the decision to remain uncompromised in their vision. In many ways, this distinction between the quickly paced short films and his lengthier features is part of what makes Haver’s works unique. If Haver were to change the pacing of his films, I don’t think that they’d wholly resemble the works that we’ve grown accustomed to and grown to love.

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