GHOST OF A CHANCE

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by Manes Duerr

grade: 7.5

In Ghost of a Chance, the camera – carefully handled by Michael Schindegger, here also author of the screenplay – shows us evocative images of wide open spaces at sunset, as well as intense close-ups of the protagonists, details of intertwined hands and cars speeding along almost deserted roads.

On two parallel tracks

How much can intense passion give us? And, similarly, how much can it take away from us? What we have been dreaming about for many years may not always be the right path to take in our lives. This and many other related questions are at the heart of the short film Ghost of a Chance, directed by Manes Duerr in 2019 and which was supposed to be part of the Diagonale 2020, but which, following the cancellation of the festival, has been included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.

Ghost of a Chance, then, is simply the story of a boy and a girl who find themselves at a crossroads. If, in fact, for a long time the two young people’s only aspirations were to see the boy’s dream of becoming a successful racing driver come true, things suddenly change when the two discover they are expecting a child. And if motoring does not really become a real profession, the two risk finding themselves in serious financial difficulty.

So what to do? Follow a passion by dreaming big or deal with it in a more realistic and concrete way? In his Ghost of a Chance, Manes Duerr focuses mainly on the inner life of the two protagonists, their conflicts and emotions. All this with a directorial approach typical of the American indie-movie. And so, the camera – carefully handled by Michael Schindegger, here also author of the screenplay – shows us evocative images of wide open spaces at sunset, as well as intense close-ups of the protagonists, details of intertwined hands and cars speeding along almost deserted roads.

It almost seems like a place isolated from the rest of the world, this one shown to us in Ghost of a Chance. The home of the two young protagonists, as well as the motor racing track where the boy trains, are, in fact, small realities apart within the wide open spaces typical of the American suburbs. And so, the loneliness of each character is even more accentuated, making for a work in which everyone seems to follow their own existential path. And the paths of the two protagonists seem to travel on two parallel tracks destined never to meet. Or maybe not?

This short but intense film by Manes Duerr presents an extremely studied and sophisticated mise-en-scene, with evocative colours and images and balanced frame compositions. And if, above all, what is most striking are the expressions of the characters – thanks to careful close-ups and extreme close-ups – it is precisely the particular location chosen that plays, here, a central role in emphasising the loneliness of the two characters and being treated as a real character.

A film, Ghost of a Chance, which is more topical than ever, if we think of the hectic life we all lead every day, and which – although not completely original – proves to be, at the end of the screening, never predictable and meaningful, due to a series of images resembling real paintings, capable of satisfying our eyes from the very first minutes.

Original title: Ghost of a Chance
Directed by: Manes Duerr
Country/year: USA, Austria / 2019
Running time: 11’
Genre: drama
Cast: Emily Labowe, Nathan Varnson, Harry Zinn, Anthony Kantor, James Levine
Screenplay: Jakob Pietsch, Michael Schindegger, Manes Duerr
Cinematography: Michael Schindegger
Produced by: Slim Pictures

Info: the page of Ghost of a Chance on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Ghost of a Chance on iMDb; the page of Ghost of a Chance on the website of Manes Duerr; Gost of a Chance on Vimeo