Viv (Emily Barclay, 'Please Like Me') and Jasper (Benedict Samuel) literally run into each other on the streets of Sydney one day. With Viv’s phone broken, the pair are pushed together in contrition and support as they while away the day and night waiting for her phone to be fixed. The duo wander the streets of the CBD and Kings Cross eating, drinking, dancing, running into characters around every corner and experiencing a camaraderie like never before.
Shot over 10 days in Sydney and completely improvised, the film follows the course of wherever the shooting days took them - this is, in short, ‘Before Sunrise’ but set in Sydney.
Barclay and Samuel are gifted and charming as their characters, but without proper character motivation the film just meanders along. Yes, the film is called ‘Ellipsis’, but it needs more than just a title to explain away its shortcomings. Wenham expressed in an interview that he didn’t want to highlight the city of Sydney and take way from the what was happening between his characters; this is another fault. By not showing off this beautiful and electric city, it suggests that what we witness could happen anywhere at any time, but that simply isn’t the case. The people, the places and a 24 hour city need to, collectively, be the third character in our story.
By not showing off this beautiful and electric city, it suggests that what we witness could happen anywhere at any time, but that simply isn’t the case.
Wenham also expressed how they workshopped this idea until Barclay and Samuel were able to fully embody their characters and be sent out into the world to see what happens. This was news to me. Viv and Jasper barely speak. There are no real organic emotional breakthroughs or engaging conversations to help keep the audience captive. The pair relay on games, “fun facts” and bar-hopping to move themselves along. It’s lazy filmmaking.
This improvised concept is clearly the workings of an actor struggling to separate himself from his career in front of the camera to one behind it. While ‘Ellipsis’ has its charms, it’s neither original nor the best of its kind.