The Suicide 1978
22min | Short | 1978 (USA)
Bullied boy, left by his father, supported by a over-optimistic and naive mother, tries out life in a new school.
Hey, give the kid a break, would ya? Thought lost for many years, this first short film directed by a 17 year old (!) Todd Haynes, was rediscovered in 2014 and put as a special feature on the DVD for the movie ‘Safe’. What is it about? In short: a middle school kid right on the edge of puberty (his voice sounds eerily alike to that of whoever voiced Charlie Brown) is contemplating suicide in his bathroom. Or, rather, the film cuts back and forth of him ‘doing it’ with a scissor across his belly in agonizing slow-motion, to his tortured school life. Bullies, lack of any contact with girls, a doting mother, and a playful senior high-school tutor make his life a kind of awful existence. The lack of a father doesn’t help, either, and all of this becomes a jumble for this kid, who also narrates his story.
It’s someone who has never picked up a camera or told a story on film before doing so, and the results are what you might expect from someone who has likely seen his fair share of art-house/1970’s films and, of course, being a teenager on the outside looking in: it’s rough, it’s stitched together and edited frenetically, and the acting is done by probably whomever Haynes and company could find (one actor is named Allen Haynes, a relative or sibling probably). When you watch a movie under such circumstances, perspective is needed. I couldn’t watch this and give it the same critical eye I would on Velvet Goldmine or Mildred Pierce, movies made with more people and better equipment (likely, as Spileberg did in his early films, he got an 8mm and just decided to make a f***ing movie!)
There are some signs of a budding artist here, to be sure, and big fans of Haynes’ approach to experimental narrative (Poison, Superstar, I’m Not There to an extent) may see some of the early signs of what’s to come. For the most part, it’s kind of a weird sit, it can get choppy, actors talk to the camera awkwardly, and the ending is kind of a cop out. And yet, it’s still enjoyable and deliriously fun, in its bittersweet (mostly bitter) way about its lead. It’s sloppy, but in the way that you do want to see what this guy will do with a budget.
Director: Todd Haynes
Writer: Todd Haynes
Stars: David Blaikie, Trudy Felton, Allen Haynes
Release Date: 1978 (USA)
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 4
File size : 252 MiB
Duration : 20 min 30 s
Overall bit rate : 1 721 kb/s