Following up his first production, “Layla”, director Jakob Lewis Barnes encounters the renowned ‘difficult’ second movie with the forthcoming “Harlequin”. Short films can be tricky things to review. The brief running time gives the artists involved an acutely finite amount of time to convey their vision.
Another exercise in abstract, experimental filmmaking, “Harlequin” brings a melancholic, almost “American Beauty”-esque nihilism to bear on the timeworn theme of the tears of a clown. There is a noticeable development in Barnes’ talents as a filmmaker since his last project but it’s a mixed blessing, creating a palpable tension as his ambitions strain the limits of this nano-budget production.
The film stars Kenton Hall (“A Dozen Summers”) as Charles, a children’s entertainer who is teetering on the abyss. Hall really delivers on the required intensity of the self-destructing clown but the film’s a little too disjointed to allow the characterisation to really blossom. The lack of cohesion may be a deliberate evocation of the fracturing of Charles’ psyche but for the viewer it doesn’t quite work. There’s no denying the character is intriguing but there’s a restlessness to the editing which doesn’t give enough time to appreciate and contemplate the scene before the next one bustles in. I would love to see this production team tackle something with real narrative weight for their next project, sacrificing some of the visual ambition to focus on a dialogue and performance driven piece.
The music is excellent throughout and the make-up likewise is very good. There are even some shots which hint at a real visual flair but it’s clear writer/ director Jakob Lewis Barnes is coming up against limitations not of his own talent or imagination but of resources. Check out the full movie below.