Short films are a tough sell, which is strange because they don’t take much time to watch, and we as a society have developed such short attention spans. I would be much more successful recommending someone waste three and a half hours watching The Irishman, which is only slightly more interesting than staring at a clock for the same amount of time.
In addition, short films don’t usually carry the same star power that we have become accustomed to from standard Hollywood fare. Every once in a while, however, something comes along that is an absolute must-see regardless of any other factors. Two Distant Strangers is exactly that.
With a runtime of 32 minutes, Travon Free, who is mostly known for his work on The Daily Show and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, punches you straight in the gut and leaves you to question what direction the rest of your day will take. I had originally set out to write something about the perils of standardized testing, but what started off as a quick little procrastination break, turned into a mission to make people share this experience.
The film centers around Carter James who gets caught in a time loop in which he keeps reliving a run-in with an overzealous police officer. I won’t give too much away, but he ends up getting brutally murdered dozens of times. Many of the deaths are overt references to the people we have lost to police brutality in recent years. The deaths hit hard, and just when you think you want to stop watching, Free lets up a little and widens the perspective.
While the ending may feel bleak, I believe the message comes from the title, which is taken from a line in the song “Changes” by 2Pac. In a way, the lives we all lead after watching this film, should lead towards the changes that need to happen. It’s not some mind-blowing sentiment, but the film is powerful enough to make you carry the message with you.
That’s all I can say about the plot without dampening the effect, but I encourage you to watch it through. It’s a beautiful film that portrays the reality many of us, or our friends and neighbors live each and every day. The pure emotion conveyed is enough to build empathy from even the most cynical person. With an incredible performance by Joey Bada$$, who is mostly known for his music, but has some experiencing acting, and nice supporting roles from Andrew Howard and Zaria, Two Distant Strangers is more impactful than most feature length films. So for real, drop what you are doing right now, fire up Netfilx, and give this gem the view it deserves.