The Musician (Cameron Wade, 2019) – Review

Cameron Wade, a personal friend of mine who I met online through mutual friends and, to my knowledge, specifically through a group chat about music, started releasing short films this year. Each time, curiosity got the better of me and I checked them out. I remember enjoying the first a lot, being surprised that it was ever a debut. Soon after that, a second came, and I noted some improvements, specifically in tone delivery as one moment was ridiculously impressive, especially for a second film. Father, the third and most recent release (excluding this one, of course) was another noticeable jump in quality, but I’m willing to admit that that one struck a personal chord too. The one take was fascinating, too (okay, there are two shots, but almost all of it is one), and the final line genuinely shook me to the point where I’m still feeling a little odd thinking about it now, over a week since seeing it. Father was one of my favourite films of the year so far, so you can imagine my excitement when Cameron reached out and told me that he had finished his next project.

Sadly, I was busy for the majority of the day, but when I finally did get around to it,I realised that, once again, Wade had ripped the rug out from under my feet. He had actually warned me about this, but I’d assumed that after three surprises already, there couldn’t possibly be any more, but of course – I was wrong.

The film opens simply, a shot of Wade playing his guitar and improvising some lyrics to go alongside. Wade’s set ups are always quite simple, relying on the mood and his naturalistic performances for the most part to guide the audience through (some of Midnight Run goes against this, but there is an exception to every rule), however, here it is even more dialled back than usual, and it continues to work as Wade comes across as very relaxed with the camera present, just allowing himself to improvise openly and test things out. I was still unsure about what to really expect, but then I focused almost entirely on the lyrics Wade’s unnamed character were improvising, and it started to make more sense. With a large focus on wanting to write ‘just one more song’, as his character says it, my mind started to wander more and more. It’s certainly his most abstract film, and so I felt alright just allowing myself to think freely about what was going on rather than focus my attention on the stricter narrative, and things started clicking into place pretty quickly.

It’s a film very much open to a mix of ideas and interpretations, so feel free to see it for yourself and come up with your own theories, however, I think that much of what Wade’s character says here is focused on himself. Much of the dialogue describes a lost love of sorts, however, I came to a conclusion that this woman/’little girl’ was in fact Wade’s own creativity. That want for just one more idea, the need to express and the anger that comes out of the inability to express those ideas when they come (he frequently stops in flow, filled with self doubt), and ultimately looking at his own self doubt in a way that felt honest and intimate, almost to the same degree as the honesty in Father (which is what really struck me about that film specifically), though maybe some of that is slightly damaged by the abstract nature of this one.

The switch in style is interesting, from Father to this. Wade has always leaned on tone and enigma in his short films, one or the other is always at play, and so seeing this one use both for the entire runtime was fascinating, seeing his style continue to develop so quickly is what really gives me the joy of seeing this. The ending is, again, a stunner, with Wade becoming more and more comparable to M. Night Shyamalan if M. Night tried his hand at something *really* dark and uncomfortable, in fact, I’d say aside from fascination and intrigue, the only emotion I got from this was a screeching discomfort that almost killed me with the final few shots. Wade has a thing for endings, evidently.

Though I may not like it as much as I liked Father, it’s still important for Wade to experiment in ways like this, especially seeing as he is still so early on in his work. It’s interesting to see steps like this made so early in such a confident way, feeling self assured but never arrogant in the slightest. They’re helping along by the innocence and creative curiosity behind them more than I’d have ever expected, and, if anything, the amateur-isms only add to the vague discomfort that is prevalent in all of his work so far. I’m very much looking forward to keeping up with his work.

For anyone who is curious, I’ll rank Cameron’s films below and leave a link to each one.

  1. Father (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHqQTU6_ego)
  2. Midnight Run (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9FVInoEano)
  3. The Musician (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq-G7WG8aj8&t=313s)
  4. Seven Sisters (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6gnqpcNTPY)

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