Shatara Michelle FordDirectorial debut “Test patternArrives as more than just a test run. The humble 82-minute film is a devastating sexual assault drama that shows how the perfect love story of Evan and Renesha is interrupted by a traumatic event. Evan (a full feeling Will Brill), sweet in his awkwardness, is an amiable tattoo artist with surfer-dude vibes. The guy who brings a decent plant as a gift to a decent dinner. Renesha (a revelation Brittany S. Hall) is a no-nonsense black corporate woman who lives in a modern luxury apartment with a kitchen and dining room that is closer to a fancy downtown restaurant than a house. The couple fall hard and fast on each other.
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With her sleek script, Michelle Ford enables Evan and Renesha’s relationship to act organically. They meet first in a bar. Then in the local grocery store. Then in their above-mentioned apartment and soon they will be living together in a cozy house. Michelle Ford is rarely intrusive in her dialogue. She lays the foundation for how much time has passed when Renesha changed her hair here, added a tattoo sleeve there, and later Evan swung a mustache. Without losing the familiar beats of their blissful love affair, writing enables us to weave at great speed into the night that shatters its calm.
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Her Eden existence collapses when Renesha accompanies her friend Amber (Gail Bean) on a girl’s night meeting some flirtatious white tech brothers. The entry point Michelle Ford uses for her ways, a conversation about Trump and the political views that must keep blacks away from their white jobs hits a true note, but it sounds forced. Both brothers are moving forward in their progress. However, one is very interested in Renesha. Without giving too much away, it’s tantamount to how a Ouija board phrased its message as Renesha’s night unfolds. Fear is formed in knowing and yet in ignorance of what is revealed. The dizzying end of the evening bursts in a jagged kinetic stream of DP Ludovica IsidoriArresting red images. And as a result, Renesha’s palpable psychological pain is.
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How Evan and Renesha later navigate the Texas hospital system in search of a rape kit is a reminder Eliza HittmanAbortion drama “Never seldom sometimes always“(To be clear,” Test Pattern “premiered at Blackstar Film Festival 2019a few months before Hittman’s film). As Evan hauls Renesha from hospital to hospital, he is slowly consumed by his frustration with this sluggish bureaucracy process. One that takes advantage of the victim’s fear of financial gain, who is underserved and understaffed, and slow to move. His relaxed aura melts into an oppressed shell. Meanwhile, Renesha’s mind not only remembers that night, but also the happy memories of Evan earlier. In these lifeboats from the past Robert Ouyang RusliThe score flutters, the sunlight dances on the lens and a cool, nostalgic oasis forms to push us back into the desperate realities of the present.
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Michelle Ford is fantastic at contextualizing complex layers in the shortest of snapshots. While part of Evan’s frustration stems from this unfair system, a tiny part of his exacerbation also stems from a sense of ownership over Renesha’s body. For example, in one scene he jokes that he wants to tag it (presumably with a tattoo). Now, in the present, he sees how this monastery, the couple’s seemingly flawless order, feels broken.
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Isidori makes the rigidity perceived between Evan and Reshada visible through her vertical compositions, which, in their static form, refer to the bars of the test pattern on a television. Michelle Ford has room to take the issue further, but she doesn’t. Rather, she leaves a meal as a bite, taking advantage of the way Evan proceeds not at Renesha’s pace, but at the pace of a bureaucracy that frustratingly shows the survivors no patience.
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Renesha’s arrival at the exam room is another gentle touch where a friendly nurse administers a questionnaire. Where a sensitive lens and another splash of flashbacks sharply brought into being by the editors Katy Miller and Matt TassoneBring the conflicting hardship in Renesha to a boil. In a moment, Renesha, the woman who spent the day some distance away to survive the afternoon in this examination room, easily reveals her inner turmoil.
“Test pattern” does not imply a fulfilling cathartic note. Life just doesn’t work that way. Rather, it ends with a slap in the face that sexual assault survivors are all too familiar with dealing with an immovable judicial and medical system. When the process ends for the bureaucracy, the wound remains open to the injured. Michelle Ford’s “Test Pattern” uses patient-specificity to examine the institutional injustices from which black women suffer for a strong, provocative effect. [B+]