Query is a short film directed by Sophie Kargman and was selected to have a world premiere at Tribeca 2020’s film festival. It’s a film which questions how heterosexuality is formed as two roommates find themselves getting into daily discussions about the origins of what makes things social norms or instinct. It stars Justice Smith and Graham Patrick Martin as the two roommates who banter back and forth on the subject for the entirety of the film. Query offers some interesting questions on the matter, but ultimately it doesn’t offer any answers by the time the credits roll.
The film tries to set up these two roommates as being best friends and “bros” with an opening shot of both of them in their underwear eating cereal and already having a deep conversation in the morning about the last time one got laid and that ignites the premise of the short film. Throughout the entire day they are on the topic of heterosexuality. It doesn’t matter where they are. They can be playing the playstation, walking in the neighborhood, or even having game night and still be discussing the topic. Throughout it’s 9 minutes of runtime, you’d think there would be answers instead of more questions and no, it’s just question on top of question and it tries to lead up to a conclusion that comes off as clunky and rushed.
The whole dynamic between these two friends attempts to be a “bromance”, but there’s no real chemistry between the two for it to be believable. The writing of their exchange felt forced and ultimately feels forced on the audience to ponder upon this everlasting debate the two have together. It tries to be clever in certain areas and fails to provide any substance for people to invest their time into for the entirety of its runtime. Not even Armie Hammer’s little cameo can ignite people to stay invested. It’s not that the subject matter isn’t interesting, because it is and it has been a discussion with friends alike, it’s the fact these two characters don’t come off as being interesting in the slightest. When people try to write “bro-ey” type characters, it comes across as assertive and over done.
Due to the choice of having these characters be “bro-ey” and borderline annoying to listen to, the overall questions that are raised are drowned by the film’s own curiosity. By the time the conclusion comes around, the film barely has any life left to allow the conclusion to be a possible answer to all their questions asked. It felt sudden and even more assertive than the bro-like archetype did earlier in the film.
Aside from the criticism, I do want to comment on the cinematography. There are some great shots throughout the short film and it’s super crisp. It wouldn’t be fair to say Sophie Kargman and the talent don’t let the story unfold and allow us to be observers of a conversation like a fly on the wall, because they do just that with the camerawork and each shot felt well thought out.
Overall I feel like the film suffers from asking too many questions and providing zero answers while trying to force the viewers to provide the answers themselves. It gives us zero characters to invest time in and no oxygen for the film to breathe its ideas. I just have to ask the question if that’s the case, who is their intended audience for this short film and what did they learn from asking these questions themselves?