September 12, 2013
Writer/Director Kevin Lacy's award winning science fiction film Numerica has been one of my favorite Utah produced short films for several years, exploring a 'what if' scenario and reflection of our society with a premise of population control.
Jake and Ava Carter (Joshua Cameron and Tatum Langton) are given bittersweet news of their pregnancy only to deal with a dilemma that begs the question of what one is willing to do for a child. Society has required that for every child born, a volunteer must die, leaving the Carter's to consider their options whilst dealing with the psychological implications of this decision.
The film co-stars Jarrod Phillips as a homeless man who serves as Jake's morale compass, Dave Nielsen as a black market merchant of death, Carolyn Koskan as a relative abusing her own obligations in the world, with Taunya Gren and Ryan Lucas.
While the short film has a science-fiction premise, it is a remarkable drama exploring the morality of decisions made by the primary character Jake. Jake's journey leads him to strike a bargain with a black market crimelord of sorts who gives Jake an opportunity to take a life so that his child can live. Character driven drama erupts as Jake shares a moment with homeless Noah, forcing him to take on a different perspective and understand the true value of life.
To say that Numerica is incredibly well done is an understatement. The performances alone are top notch and incredibly moving. The plight of these characters is believable from start to finish, a victory not just for the actors but for the well executed script. Films similar to Numerica, especially within the indie film world become overshadowed by the themes and messages of their story to a point where they become overtly preachy. Numerica's structure and fine dialogue doesn't bombard its audience as a repeated, ham-fisted soapbox and serves more of a realistic, emotional cautionary tale.
Aiding Lacy's gift for storytelling is the pitch perfect cinematography by Austin James Green, who manages to utilize the camera and treats it as a character and a tool to convey the message and produce a believable atmosphere throughout that is considerably lacking in many Utah productions. Not just a matter of point and shoot, the camera work tells us much of what we need to know here, and lined up with good performances, moving dialogue, and tight editing, every element of filmmaking is working in perfect tandem as it should be.
Running at roughly 16 minutes, the film maintains a good pace, although there are just a few moments throughout that could have gone quicker, primarily around scenes within the doctors office, and driving moments with the Carter's relative, both of which could have used a little more build up as these scenes were important but didn't pack the emotional punch that it possibly could have.
Numerica is a highlight of what low budget filmmaking in Utah should look like. It's exceptionally well done and made with heart and soul by a group of talented individuals in all areas of production who fully understand how to tell a story and to tell it effectively.