Special encounters do not always lead to something good. ‘Mug Shot‘ proposes the unfortunate result of such a seemingly providential meeting that gradually becomes a game of seduction based on manipulation. Without guiding this scenario towards the formula of a thriller such as ‘Fatal Attraction’, director Barnum Nixon-Smith coagulates in a few minutes the drama of a woman who becomes, by turn, the victim of physical dysfunctions, of a monotonous and frustrating job, but also of a man who exerts an almost demonic fascination on her. Thus, the director creates the story starting from two protagonists in a relationship of total antinomy, destroying the “opposites attract” cliché: she is a defender of the law, a mature person who has always lived within the rigid limits of the rules and who always ignored her intimate desires, while he is a charming and rebellious young man, a rulebreaker who always lives on the edge of social regulations. Far from relying on the unpredictability of the story, the contact between the two favours rather the discovery of the female character’s psychological layers.


During several mugshot encounters, police officer Karen develops an increasingly strong fascination for reoffender Billy. Who is Billy, though: the one who will give Karen the chance to find her joy of living, or the one who will throw her even deeper into her own existential drama?


The main quality of this short film consists in the verbal and nonverbal nuances that uncover and perfidiously make vulnerable the sensitivity of a woman who, despite her pragmatism, gives in to a typology she normally knows. In fact, the protagonist gives in to a romantic concept, while her great act of courage to break the barriers that hold her captive equates to her great existential failure. The message of director Barnum Nixon-Smith is, from this perspective, much more pessimistic than his short film let us see – we are all antiheroes of our own story, we all end up defeated, at some point, by artificial ideals that work maybe only in literature. Indeed, there is a lot of cynicism hidden in this short film, and this is also another quality of it, despite certain technical aspects that do not keep the quality of the cinematic construct constant. ‘Mug Shot’ is thus a short film that, although it has not reached that degree of technical refinement, offers a sharp, almost cruel perspective on how people become victims of ideals totally incompatible with their own reality.