Director: Graham Jones
Cast: Sarah Jane Murphy, Joseph Lydon
Plot: A girl (Murphy) posts an ad on a dating site, asking for a relationship without speaking. It is answered by a charming, yet distant suitor (Lydon).
This movie was recommended to me by Natasha Harmer and is available if you follow this Youtube link, you can watch it for free. Please give this a like and a favourite, as director, Graham Jones, certainly deserves it.
Warning to anyone thinking of watching this movie. As the brief premise detailed above suggests, there is no dialogue in this movie. This makes it a film mainly suited for film-lovers, who just want to find out if a director can make a love story without getting their two romantic leads talking to each other. The joy of this film is in the slow, thoughtful depiction of young love and the careful cinematography that never wastes a beat. Of course, the true romantics willing to embrace the odd style of this film will most certainly like it, as Graham Jones wears the theme of love, proudly like a badge, and uses every romantic bone in his body to craft a truly wonderful story.
Let’s start our review with the man himself, as most of the film’s achievements are down to superb direction from Graham Jones. Some will find this a hard film to get into, and it is, only because, Jones is in total control of his storyboarding and camerawork, that it works at all. In some ways, it is these shots that make The Randomers a much more enjoyable experience that it has any right to be. When the film slows down, you just end up letting Graham Jones’ keen eye pick things up, as you try and figure out exactly what he is trying to depict with his angles and direction. There is so much wonderful symbolism in this film. The empty rooms that they find themselves in, before they first meet, the distance between the couple suggesting the current atmosphere of the relationship. There is one beautiful, long shot of the two of them walking down a pier and Sarah Jane Murphy sits down on a bench, refusing to walk any further. Lydon shrugs and carries on for a few steps, before he realises that Murphy is definitely not following him. He pauses, turns around and goes back the way he came. Murphy slowly gets up and follows him. I’d like to think that this is Jones conveying this idea that Lydon’s character is ready for the next step in the relationship (we assume talking, but I think Jones wants the actual stages of the relationship to be broad, meaning whatever the viewer feels like it should be), but Murphy wants it to move at her own pace. It was a clever piece of direction. Other shots include a scene where Murphy and Lydon are lying naked in each other’s arms, cutting to the couple’s very first row, before cutting right back. These scenes are mixed in with each other, giving us the idea of the complicated nature of love. I would have liked more of this style of direction, although too much might have made the story confusing. There were other tricks that I was sure was trying to tell me something about Jones’s idea of the relationship, but I couldn’t figure them out. This encourages multiple viewings from the audience.
Jones also has a keen eye for scenery. This film feels very Irish, mainly because there is this idea that Graham Jones has a massive passion and love for his hometown. Scenes are comprised of ideal little locations that suggest that this film is glued together by these little best-kept-secrets hide-outs of where he comes from. Little clearings in forests, homely bars and alleyways; all of these scenes just make the movie feel so domestic and homely. I guess we could read into this as Jones having a love, not only for his characters and their relationship, but for his hometown. Getting ahead of ourselves and saying that in twenty years’ time, Graham Jones hits the big time and starts producing well-known films, this could very well be the one fans keep coming back to in order to pick apart his roots. It just makes the movie feel all the more special and heart-warming, as though Graham Jones has allowed us a peek at his private life and we should feel grateful for the time spent in these treasured places.
Seeing as there is no speech in this movie, it falls to John Wright to keep our ears entertained, as the guy put in charge of the soundtrack. Music suddenly becomes a very key part in the Randomers. There were moments where, without it, the film might have descended into dull romance or, even worse, an artsy-silent film. However, a nicely-judged selection of tracks help, not only keep things lively, but also helps the viewer get a deeper understanding of what is going on. The melodic sounds tell us when the characters are happy, sad, miserable or unsatisfied. The music works so well with the performances. I just wish that I understood the non-music sound effects better. Dogs barked a lot and I am sure it meant something. Snippets of sound broke up the action, but I never truly understood what they were getting at (although, one news snippet makes sense in the final few frames).
Then there were the performances. Oh, the performances. Both actors were tremendous, especially when they were asked to not say a single line. Sarah Jane Murphy is probably the favourite, as she makes every facial movement count towards the overall picture. The story starts, because she wants something new from a relationship and we can see that she is unsatisfied with her life, before her ad is answered. But, then there is always this hope shining her eyes. Even when her character is upset, it never leaves her. She becomes this sparkling pillar of optimism and it helps give that film the happy-go-lucky tone. Even without saying a word, it is easy to see why someone could fall so easily in love with Sarah Jane Murphy. I only say that she is better than Joseph Lydon, because his back story keeps him fairly miserable and straight-faced throughout, meaning he gets fewer opportunities to show us what he can do. However, when he gets a chance, he proves to be a worthy co-star, impressing the audience with some of the deeper moments in the film. While Sarah Jane Murphy acts with her eyes, Lydon is all about the hands. His hands show us intimacy, rage and, most importantly, love.
The Randomers’ one and only problem is the script. Now, you might think it is weird that I can criticise script in a movie devoid of dialogue, but actually it becomes all the more important. Sadly, the Randomers has a vague outline of a story, but never truly connects the dots. The first date was a little poor, in my opinion. I can see how these characters can stay in love with each other (Lydon quirky and amusing, Murphy instantly loveable), but what I wanted to see how they fell in love with each other. Editing takes the easy way out and just skips over the parts of the movie that might have needed dialogue. The scene cuts from the first time their eyes meet to them sitting in a café in the midst of a first date. A lot was just skipped there and I felt it was the most important part of this kind of film to see how they can first get around the no-talking thing. Personally, I felt a load of the movie should have been spent on that first date, because it should have been one of the most interesting parts of the story. As it happens, this film kind of turns into several shots of this couple throughout their relationship and never truly tackles much. Maybe, I missed the point: maybe this is a film about love in a very broad sense and little things like specifics don’t really matter to the director, nor should it the viewer. And in fairness, Graham Jones keeps what is little more than clips of two people being madly in love without speaking far more entertaining that I would have thought possible. The running time flew by. However, I was left thinking that this movie could have been just as effective as a short film.
Final Verdict: Fantastic direction and great performances make the Randomers a charming, beautiful piece of cinema. It is a shame Jones never pushes the premise further than he does.