The title first drew me to Alicia Duffy’s “The Most Beautiful Man in the World.” It reminded me of the title to one of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short stories, “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World.” Obviously I have a predilection for superlatives, but that’s where the similarities in the stories end.
What draws me back to this short film time and again is its simplicity. Duffy’s short film is breath-catchingly unnerving. The film follows a young girl through one of those disturbingly familiar, oppressively boring, days of summer. The TV’s desperate pleas for attention, the mother’s phone chatter in the background, even the dog’s endless panting, all draw attention to this young girl’s isolation and loneliness. But she remains unattended and ignored.
It’s a simple film, almost entirely visually told, with only one overt line of dialogue: “That’s my dog.” Nothing significant happens. No confrontations, no abuse. But it ripples and thrums with threat. And, as wrong as it is, it contains the possibility that the tedium and boredom of this day might end, that someone might pay attention to her.
It’s a small plot, the film turning full circle back to the living room floor, the dog, the blare of the inattentive television. It might seem like nothing has changed, except for one thing: it’s a tiny shot, the flash back to the field with the man standing shirtless in the tall grass, but it’s all we need to know that however inappropriate, the attention she received in the field has cut through the boredom, the malaise of the endless summer day.
Duffy went on to make a feature film in 2010, All Good Children:
“After the death of their mother, Irish youngsters Dara and Eoin are moved to France to stay with their aunt. There, the boys befriend a local English family and the impressionable Dara falls under the spell of their young daughter Bella. But when she begins to pull away, Dara’s feelings for her start to get out of hand.” —imdb
— R. W. Gray