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Living in Oblivion Critique

Malek Allari | Editor-in-Chief

The film Living in Oblivion mixed many filmmaking elements to create a masterpiece.

Whether it be storytelling, camerawork, or lighting, the film excelled in every aspect. The film

gave a unique vibe to it, as it tried to show the people and make them aware that the filmmaking industry is complex. Whether it be directors, camera people, actors, or editors, the film conveyed the idea perfectly and intelligently.

The storytelling of the film was great. It talks about how hard it is to create a movie,

especially with a low budget. It also shows the fear and anxiety that the people who work

throughout the film must go through every single day to deliver something to the public. For

example, the start of the movie shows how Nicole (Catherine Keener) is nervous and anxious

about her scene with her “mother.” Even in the scene, it shows that, as they are both talking, they are both anxious and try to “hype” each other up. The story starts to unfold in unexpected ways regarding the scene itself. About twenty-five minutes into the movie, the people realize that everything that happened thus far was all a dream, an anxious dream of the director.

Another interesting method of storytelling is the fact that the movie changes colors. From black and white to colored images and then back to black and white. This exciting method of storytelling could not be pulled by anyone and certainly could not be pulled by any story. Then why does it work with Living in Oblivion? It is because of the fact that the characters in the movie could not differentiate between reality and fiction. The whole first scene of the movie is in the director’s dream. However, the only “reality” was that the shooting was happening and how the scene of Ellen and her talk with her mother came out. Another example is when at the end of the movie, everything starts to be colored, precisely after Nicole goes into the shower after spending the night with Chad (James Le Gros). That was when everything that happened was in the real world and not a dream.

The camerawork in the film was fantastic. It showed everything the characters were

doing, and when it didn’t, it was pointed out even in the movie that it was awkward. The biggest example was Nicole’s intimate scene with Chad. When Chad came up with the idea of being on the bed and Nicole had to turn around, her face was not shown, and she pointed out that it was awkward to do so.

The lighting of the film captured everything from emotions to desires to conflicts that the characters in the story had to go through. For example, the lighting should show the tears running down the faces of both Nicole and Wolf (Dermot Mulroney) when they cry. Or when Chad went over to Wanda (Danielle von Zerneck) and Script (Hilary Gilford) and told them that someone smelled nice. The viewers could clearly see the smiles of both characters. Or when the lighting came perfectly on the director’s face to show their concern or when the scene is not working out as it should be.

As all these elements were combined together, as well as the excellent editing of the film from transitioning from black and white to color, it created the masterpiece Living In Oblivion. However, it does strike the question of why the director chose to jump between colored and black and white film? The answer could only be of two things, either to show off the editing skills, or it just simply works for the film and could create a big hit in the industry, which it did in both scenarios.


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