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MAY 13, 2019

The poster typically is based on the movie. Perhaps it’s a beautiful still from a pertinent moment, or a graphic design rendering of an overall theme from within the film. Rarely does the poster come first. But Sam West’s did.


The College of Fine Arts’ senior’s simplistic, yet elegant movie poster was the entire foundation for Zach Braff’s latest short film, “In the Time it Takes to Get There.” The poster consists of scissors, an apple core, a candle, a landline telephone, a pencil, and a ruled notepad, all expertly sketched by West. Only Braff would be able to turn these objects into a well-developed plot for the 11 minute film, “In the Time it Takes to Get There,” which stars Alicia Silverstone and Florence Pugh.


Set in what appears to be a riff on Versailles, and in costumes that appear to have been taken directly out of the closet of Marie Antoinette herself, “In the Time it Takes to Get There” is a short satire about digital influencer culture. The film follows the story of a quintessentially moody teenage daughter (Pugh) and her upbeat, smile-plastered-on helicopter mom (Silverstone). Pugh’s character is less than thrilled about her life as an influencer, but Silverstone’s will happily tell her to “turn that frown upside down” for the cameras.


With references to Fyre Festival, a cameo from Leslie David Baker (Stanley from “The Office”) and allusions to social media throughout, Braff clearly aims to appeal to college-age students by showing the power--and comedy--of influencer culture. The plot stays true to its time period, however; a “post” is a literal photograph posted in the town square. In this way, it slightly reminded me of Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo and Juliet.”


The short is exquisitely shot and its humor and relevance stay true to Braff’s directorial style. While the message of “don’t take social media too seriously” is an important one, Braff’s tone and execution could’ve been more nuanced. His message slaps the viewer in the face, not allowing us to do any of the work for ourselves. In my eyes, there was absolutely no room for interpretation.


In all likelihood, this was Braff’s intended plan of action. Dramatizing social media and digital influencer culture is an excellent way of ridiculing it, but it felt forced. There was a manufactured quality to the short, as if the extra step of making the plot more nuanced was either forgotten about or just ignored for the sake of ease. Either way, the message was certainly not missed.


Overall, Braff’s film was lighthearted yet meaningful, funny yet poignant, and a joy to watch. Next time, Zach, just make us work for it a little more.

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