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Irrational (2022)

In a world where our feelings can often be regarded as Irrational, one man (Patrick Newell) spends his day at home, pondering the reality of life. In this short film you will see raw, emotionally relevant content that appeals to the senses of the everyday person. From self medicating to minor temper tantrums, Irrational depicts the honesty of isolation and human temperament in a very visceral way.

Black and white is a stylistic choice that speaks volumes toward the content of a film. Unless you’re strapped for cash and eliminating color will save you a boatload of money, you choose to shoot in black and white to make a statement, to tell a story–and Newell is successful in reaching his viewers as a result of this choice. Irrational not just dabbles in, but dives headfirst into ideas of depression and full-on emotional distress. The absence of color allows those sentiments to come to life in a simple, but beautiful way. Without color, Newell is able to project ideas of darkness and mystery that transcends the entirety of Irrational and reach viewers on an emotional level. For a split second viewers see color, a vibrant flash of light that fills the screen–and this creates a juxtaposition in the narrative related directly to the overarching idea of emotion, and that may just be the defining moment of the entire film.

A couple of years ago I had a discussion with writer-director (and actor) Newell, and I asked that he create more emotionally relevant narrative content. After that discussion I sat patiently waiting for something new from the up-and-coming filmmaker, and Irrational finally made its way to me. This is a film made out of passion–it’s honest, lively, but completely simplistic in the fact that everything is organic and nothing feels exaggerated. Irrational feels real, but even better than that (ironically) the film makes viewers feel hopeless, unhinged, and downtrodden. These are good things? You bet! They are good for the film because it proves that what Newell has developed is truly successful and touches its viewers in the best way possible.

There are a number of things that go into the success of Irrational–the aforementioned decision to film in black and white, the concise nature of the narrative, and even Newell’s aesthetic. I get that this project is something personal, and that likely led to Newell wanting to use himself as the lead rather than someone else, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he simply looks the part. As viewers follow Newell’s protagonist through the story they believe what is being done, the way in which Newell projects himself appeals to viewers, because they see something that looks real–rather than something made simply for entertainment.

Newell understands how to manipulate the camera to create beautiful visuals. As viewers wade through the black and white waters of Irrational, they are exposed to camera work that is simple and low budget, but brilliant. A series of close ups play a role in the reception of the film and those shots determine whether or not viewers understand the sentiment that Newell is attempting to convey. He reels in viewers with his very particular and precise camerawork–and I truly believe that viewers understand and appreciate Newell’s message as a result. Through the darkness that is Irrational, however, the soundtrack seems to conflict with the tone of the film. While viewers are still able to understand the message through the visuals, it seems like a more intense, harrowing score (or no music at all) may have better represented Newell’s vision–helping to keep pace with the rest of the film.

Sixty seconds isn’t a long time to develop and tell a story–but everything I’ve previously mentioned comes to life in that short amount of time in Irrational. I often ask myself when watching films “why should I care?” Irrational is so relevant, especially in a time when mental health is at the forefront of just about every social and political discussion around the world. This is an important subject–I care, and I think the rest of the world will as well. I’ve seen a number of Newell’s other films, and they have ranged from comedies to music videos, and the quality has run the gamut as well. Irrational is, without a doubt, Newell’s most ambitious and most impressive project to date.

Written & Directed by Patrick Newell.

Starring Patrick Newell.




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