The Misogynist (2011)

Description (from the IMDb):
Harlan is a photographer with ‘writer’s block’. Tired of shooting the same projects over and over again, he is inspired when he starts using his wife as his muse, but his obsessive perfectionism begins to destroy their relationship and his sanity.

Pascal Yen-Pfister as Harlan, Rhea Sandstrom as Harlan’s Wife, Timothy J. Cox as Frost

Special Features:
None (Online Screener)

Written and Directed by Chai Dingari

This was an odd little film.  THE MISOGYNIST is the story of Harlan, an obviously French photographer living in a tiny apartment in NYC with his wife.  He’s having some problems: Harlan has been having a hard time coming up with pictures that move him, and he’s been dreaming of wolves tearing his wife and as-of-yet non-existent children to shreds.  He lives with a woman who obviously supports him – she pays the rent – but doesn’t really seem to understand him.  On top of all of that, he has a new assignment from his agent for a client that he just can’t seem to get his head around.  Oh, and: he has a pretty damn short fuse.

Harlan, getting personal with his work

I don’t really want to get too much into the plot with TM other than what I’ve already explained because of the fact that it’s only about 12 minutes long, and it would be really easy to do a “book report” on this film and just tell you everything that happens.  TM has a nice and unexpected surprise in the plot that I don’t want to ruin for anyone that might have the opportunity to see this flick, so we’re gonna have to keep things high-level on this one.  TM is a really odd film; the surprise really has basically no warning, and doesn’t feel very justified in the context of the film.  I guess that Harlan is just losing it from his hard time in getting his newest assignment done, but good goddamn does he go off the deep end.

On the production side of things, overall TM is a well-made film.  The video quality is above average; it’s not perfect but it’s not bad in any way.  The lighting leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the tiny apartment (which may have been because they didn’t have someone with knowledge in lighting, or it may be because in that apartment there’s just no place to actually put lights!), but overall the picture quality is not horribly harmed by it.  The composition is especially good; there is good use of natural elements of NYC to make interesting shots that keep the viewer’s eye entertained, and really good selection of locations that make for decent eye candy in the shots.  The sound quality was especially good, and there were very few issues with dialogue being understandable.  I assume that a lot of this comes from the fact that the interiors were shot in very small spaces, so it’s not tough to get a decent quality recording of the audio with any sort of boom mic.

NYC makes a great backdrop for many of the shots, and Dingari’s eye picks up interesting visuals

Dingari gets good performances from all three of his actors in TM.  While Sandstrom is the weakest of the three, her performance is in no way bad; she seems a bit lost in the beginning of the film, but her character later seems to be a bit lost in Harlan’s building madness, so this seems more of an artistic choice rather than a flaw in the acting.  Cox does a great job as the comedic foil in the film.  His portrayal of the agent Frost draws the only smiles; Cox does really well as the smart-ass or the funny-guy, as he has shown in other films I have reviewed (here).  The standout on TM is Yen-Pfister’s Harlan, who shows a brooding calm that seems so natural that it makes the eventual aforementioned “surprise” all the more surprising.  He has an intensity, and as for the ladies I don’t anyone will complain about his accent.

Be afraid NYC, for Harlan sees all…

Overall, TM is a hard film for me to really make firm decisions about.  TM is well made, but not perfect, it is an interesting script, but not without flaws. The movie has a bunch of really nice shots on the street of NY, but yet has issues with lighting when it is indoors.  TM has a “twist” or “surprise” that really comes up out of nowhere, but it is almost so unexpected as to make it seem very out of place and unsubstantiated.  It was an interesting, odd little film that seems to have a lot of promise but not the best execution; from the plot to the production to even the title (Harlan never seems to particularly hate women, and if he’s not the misogynist, who is?) there is a lot of promise that never comes quite to fruition.  There is no doubt in my mind that TM was made by, and starring, talented people, but I don’t think it quite lives up to the high bar the talent sets for itself.

Overall 6 / 10

TM on the IMDb:

TM for sale:

TM does not appear to have a site.

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