The ocean waves rush to the shore. We read no anger in them, no rage or determination to make a statement about the ocean’s uneasiness on this cold wet day when this lonely young journalist contemplates them, waiting. The weather itself looks like a painting loyally portraying the young man’s nature, while rare raindrops stick on the lens of a nonchalant camera which feels like it wants them on purpose to be there. An acute sentiment of sadness is completed by a slow subtle melancholic piano.
The director’s synopsis reads: ‘An unspoken love between a young gay man and a straight guy’ but this sounds so much less than this film really is; the sketchy synopsis sounds on purpose to us, just like the raindrops on the camera lens.
‘Undercurrent’ captured our thoughts from the first frame: waves. The undercurrent is a current of water that moves in a different direction than any currents on the surface. But this is obviously a metaphor and one eventually gets it after watching Wei Zhang’s moody short film. This is not a film about water undercurrents but about social and emotional ones. The way the director played with the concept and included the water as a symbol is brilliant.
What is the undercurrent then? We’ve been asking this ourselves. As Wei Zhang’s description of his film is already partially unveiled, this is the story of a young gay journalist writing an editorial for a bar owner – with whom he falls in love; despite the two personages getting eventually on a trip together and favouring the underneath emotions to break through, the young journalist’s feelings remain unrequited. His peer is in a relationship with a girl and he looks so tied up to her that he will drive the freshly intertwined thrill between the two young men to disconnection. The undercurrent patiently starts to emerge. As the sensitive journalists hands the editorial to his ‘partner’, he tries to also attain a proof of his reciprocity, but this is something will delay to come.
The journalist is walking away flanked by the waves thrown at him by the ocean’s surface currents, while the ‘undercurrent’ reveals itself as his friend opens a drawer in his own apartment… it could be about the fear of one coming out as the person who they really are, it could be an unfortunate timing as one have already ‘entrapped’ themselves in a relationship or it could be unconditional emotion in pure state, only suitable to absolute dedication – we’re not going to put the words in your mouth.
Neither are we going to disclose the best part of ‘Undercurrent’ and you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out what hides behind the ‘ellipsis’ above. We are going to tell you, though, that Wei Zhang’s student film of an authentic narrative fiction taste is unbelievably well framed, emotionally acted and superbly backed by the symbol of water (ocean). Wonderful, sensitive achievement for a student film!