Press photo from An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Terence Nance
If a man like first-time director/screenwriter Terence Nance was as fascinated by me as he is by actress Namik Minter, my love-struck gaze would've been penetrating out of the silver screen rather than staring longingly into it from my seat amongst the audience of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. Admitted into Sundance through the New Frontier category, it's difficult to categorize the film into a specific genre. It begins with a simple scenario narrated by a deep, omnipotent voice: "You've just arrived home after a bad day. You're broke and lonely, even though you live in the biggest and busiest city in America. You do, however, have one cause for mild optimism: you seem to have captured the attention of an intriguing young lady. You've rushed home to clean your apartment before she comes over. In your haste, you see that you've missed a call. There's a voice mail; she tells you that she won't be seeing you tonight."
The narrative is then interrupted by the impersonal narrator, explaining that the film we are watching is a short entitled "How Would You Feel," which will be interrupted throughout with the feature-length "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty." From that moment on, the film sheds all of the conventional elements of film that audiences have come to expect, disregarding any sense of a continuous narrative, instead folding back on itself over and over again, adding details through its exploration of dreams and memories to the many layers. These details, which are given to us through the constant narration and mostly second-person dialogue of the deep-voiced narrator, Nance and Minter, are presented through live-action sequences and a beautiful array of visual art and animation.
Obviously, due to its experimental nature, the film is not for everyone. Half of the audience at the screening I attended walked out before the end. Much like poetry, it requires a specific kind of audience. It's also a bit lengthy, which gets tiresome due to its mise-en-abyme quality. However, the film's creativity makes up for all of this. The documentary-esque live-action segments combined with the beautifully done animation results in a tangible work of art that provokes more thought and emotion from a perceptive audience.