97% Love, 3% Absurdity?

Ben Brand’s film, 97% is a collision of technology, love and curiosity. At the heart of this seven minute short is one man looking for the perfect woman whom he has a 97% compatibility rating with via an online app. As he races through the underground, he is able to track the location of his mystical love match. But through this chaos he misses the potential opportunity to find someone else. This is a sophisticated and simple idea. Brand has us from the opening shot and keeps us clinging on till the rolling credits. We like the anonymous lead character want to find the 97% woman. We don’t want to be sitting alone leering at strangers on public transport anymore.

Brand’s film is successful because it is universal. Love is the ultimate, often unreachable goal. But what differs his film from the thousand of other ones in this genre is the art of subtlety. It is completely wordless save for the French voice that appears on the airwaves on the underground intercom. This is a massive complement to the viewer where they do not need to be explained every detail. There is also a slight nod to society’s addiction and reliance on their smartphones to solve all their problems. It is up to their phones to find their soul mates, we are just victims to the machine, following it obediently across the train tracks.

One coy smile to a woman passing by and we can determine our protagonist’s interest. It is that easy. Each shot reveals the man’s changing mind set from lovingly intrigue to worrying obsession. Brand captures a complicated subtext with a great deal of charm and sweetness. In one final exacerbated expression to the camera he realises his absurdity and so does the viewer.  Brand was ruthless in the execution of 97%. He pulled deals with train drivers to get the underground location. He hired in thirty extras, paid for their travel cards and scattered them stylistically across the train carriages. He then directed them to act as everyday commuters and if anyone asked they were just travelling home. They shot like this for three days.

Unsurprisingly 97% has gained a large amount of media coverage and awards, having been selected for over seventy international film festivals. It has also been selected for a Vimeo staff pick, putting it straight to the head of the queue for must watch films. The short film genre is an extremely competitive one to find success in and Brand does it effortlessly. This is his last step before shooting his feature film, ‘find this dumb little bitch and throw her into the river ‘, which is set to start filming early spring of 2016. His new film is all about growing up and making mistakes. If this film is anything to go by I am sure it will be an out and out hit.

Olivia Topley