Aaron Hilmer, Fynn Grossmann
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
… a real achievement.
The dialogue for First Time could fit on a post-it note, with room to spare. Its concept is deceptively simple: two young men, perhaps in their late teens or early twenties, notice each other while riding on a metro train in Hamburg. That’s it. Or is it? The majority of this film has the camera focussed on the men and as you watch it, you are no longer a viewer in a cinema, but a passenger on the train with them – a keen observer, noticing every twitch, furtive glance and subtle change in body language.
The director’s opening moves (not set on the train) are quietly amusing and inventive – and if you think you’re in the wrong film, sit tight, it will soon make sense. As the two young men, Aaron Hilmer and Fynn Grossmann are excellent, with nuanced acting as the two unsure people possibly attracted to each other, although Hilmer’s is the more subtle performance.
For a viewer to become so involved in this virtually wordless short feature with next to no action of any kind signals a director of great skill – it’s a real achievement. German filmmaker Nicolaas Schmidt has a stack of shorts and a made-for-TV movie on his CV.
At under 50 minutes, First Time doesn’t stretch the concept too far and Schmidt uses the soundtrack to create a rhythm, which you slip into as urban Hamburg glides past the train’s window.
There are thematic relationships between First Time and its accompanying eight-minute short, Believe, also from filmmaker Nicolaas Schmidt. Again, a simple concept – it’s basically a beach at sunset, and again you’re the observer, watching people run into the water, walking along the shoreline, or a dog sniffing around. It’s alluring, hypnotic viewing and makes a positive point at its close, yet falls short of being as uplifting as it wants to be.
Based on these two offerings, Schmidt is undoubtedly a clever filmmaker with a rare and playful take on cinema.