Texting in New York City (2016): Experiment in Vision (Review)

Image courtesy of Mansu Edwards

Written and directed by Mansu Edwards Texting in New York City is an experimental film that choses to utilize subtitles instead of dialogue. The main reason, it seems, is the guerrilla style of filming that Edwards uses.

The short film, just over 10 minutes, follows the journey of a forgotten cell phone. Its owner is a student who has issues with money and problems of the heart. The young man spies an attractive woman in the subway and in his haste to approach her leaves his phone behind.

Edwards opts to have all his characters speak via the subtitles onscreen with a soundtrack that is comprised of electronic noises. The idea, apparently, is to evoke images of texting. However, this is not shown on screen nor is it implied.

What is obvious with the action, and character interaction, is Edwards’ intent to show how using cell phones have replaced “normal” conversation. It also acts to facilitate people “hooking up,” as is the case with the chap who finds the phone on the subway.

The characters we meet in the short film are all college students presumably and this also goes towards the director’s message. Younger people use the phone not just to communicate but to avoid communicating.

With out any spoken dialogue and that electronic, and intrusive, soundtrack, the film comes close to annoying the viewer. However, it appears that this is Edwards’ intent. His protagonists do not do any real communicating, aka talking, via those subtitles, other than short snappy slang.

The point seems to be that talking is too much trouble. Each character speaks in shortened phrases, all too similar to a text or an email. Mansu makes a valid point with his short film but ultimately the entire thing is unenjoyable.

Despite the valid message in this experimental film the method of delivery irks.

Texting in New York City is almost a 3 star effort. The guerrilla style, combined with the somewhat confusing storyline, makes it interesting but lacking in impact. It also needs to lose that irksome soundtrack.

This is a solid first effort however. Mansu Edwards has taken an unusual route in telling this story. It will be interesting to see what the writer and director comes up with next.

Have a look at the trailer and see what you think: