An Oversimplification of Her Beauty



I went into this film believing myself to be about to witness an interesting and thought-provoking semi-animated, art-house dissection of a relationship. It even has Jay Z down as a producer, which I thought could only bode well. How wrong I was.

What I instead got was one and half hours of arrogant, self- indulgent ‘interesting’ camera shots with so little emotional depth that it made Mean Girls look like The Seventh Seal. Before the opening credits had even finished rolling I had lost interest and by a minute in I had a headache due to all the edgy, shaky camera work. Terence Nance, (director, writer, actor and subject) may have successfully experimented with standard narrative structure and content, but failed to create a piece which was remotely engaging, or indeed anything which was not therefore to inflate what already seems to be an overly large ego.

Despite premiering at Sundance Festival two years ago, An Oversimplification of her Beauty has taken the past two years to trickle down into British cinemas. The film loosely tells the story of Terence Nance’s attempt to turn a platonic relationship into a romantic one. After meeting and becoming attached to a girl who does not reciprocate his feelings he makes a short film about the two of them, and then shows her it. Then he makes an even longer film about what happened after he showed her said film. The first film in question is entitled How Would You Feel and is intercut with the main feature, which reaches into his past failed relationships, presumably to bulk out what is a very stretched tale.

The film makes an interesting attempt to use different narrative devices including animation, and semi-documentary footage to tell its story, clearly attempting at something bold. In many ways, the film is very revealing – its realist documentary style aspects portray the reality of the situation, whilst at the same time being juxtaposed with the inner fantasy of its animation. It is certainly true that the animation at times looked very nice, despite confusion about what it was depicting. Overall the continual changing of styles, and indeed story, meant that there was never enough focus in one area to become attached to. It merely left me confused and disinterested. The long, dreamlike animated sequences are used only as another chance for Nance to shove his inner turmoil down our throats. In the realist sections, the only screen time given to actual human interaction with the girl in question, free from the droning voice of the narrator, is a Q and A conducted by, you guessed it, Terence Nance himself.

This film could have been trying to say something real, but whatever that was, it was never made clear to me. In the end it was a pretentious, self-indulgent mirage of a film. Just naming a list of ‘emotions’ in their semantic form will not make me feel them, and despite the very long list, they failed to read out the one which summed up how I felt while watching this film; bored