Choices is used with permission from Justin Luis Denis. Learn more at https://instagram.com/jluisdenis.
A man is getting ready to go out on a date. He cycles through a few different looks, ranging from oxfords to sneakers. But then he decides on a rather unique pair of shoes, ones that blend split toes with camouflage for a certain urban survivalist flair. But when he goes on the date, his more conventional companion, who arrives wearing a pair of high-heel sandals, takes one look at those shoes and walks away.
Saddened by his rejection, the man’s night goes from bad to worse, as he’s attacked on the street and then taken away to a remote location in a van with another man wearing a trendy pair of sneakers. With both hands and feet handcuffed to a chair, he finds himself in danger and must finable his way out of a sticky situation, or else meet a dark fate.
Directed and written by Justin Luis Denis, this short drama has a clever conceit: it’s told entirely through feet. Part of that focus is built into the story — our nameless protagonist is rejected romantically because of his hyper-individualistic shoe choice. But all we see of any action are the characters’ feet, and the film sticks with this choice all the way through. But it works well because while the premise is cheeky, the storytelling and craftsmanship are solid, straightforward and thoughtful. It leverages the unique ability of footwear to tell us about character and class, making for a fresh twist on what turns into a short thriller story.
Shot in clear, crisp black-and-white cinematography and with very few lines of spoken dialogue, there’s something reminiscent of early cinema in the visual simplicity and clarity that the narrative limitation also reinforces. It puts the focus on the film’s other strengths, which include brisk, snappy pacing, sharp editing and especially effective sound design and music, both of which expand a story’s sense of place and emotion well beyond the focus on feet.
That focus serves viewers well, forcing them to use their imagination when the hero of the story encounters some unsavory situations and characters, raising the stakes considerably. Even from the limited perspective of feet, the story builds up suspense and tension, as our protagonist must find his way out of a tough spot. As it turns out, honoring his sartorial instincts and staying true to himself ends up serving him well, making the end of an ironic but satisfying bit of a twist and "Choices" a particularly enjoyable, entertaining watch that is equal parts quirky, memorable and compelling.
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A man wears unique shoes for a date. It leads to a series of unfortunate events. | Choices
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