“I’ve been thinking about this guy on the ocean floor for like 4 years, maybe even longer.” – Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart’s 17-minute short film, Come Swim, is a collage piece, filled with strange and powerful images that reverberate and echo, all accompanied by repetitive whispers, giggles, gurgles, the sound of water. Lapping waves, a pouring downpour, gurgles, roaring, rushing. It opens with a frankly terrifying image of a massive black wave rearing up in stark and incredibly slow slo-mo. The editing of the short is superb, chopping up the action, flashing-forward, flashing back. There are visual effects, making this extremely ambitious for a short film. The visual effects are all in service to the story, as you will see. They are used to express emotion, not as a result in and of themselves. We are in this man’s interior space. We see the world as he sees it, as he experiences it. The experience of Come Swim is intensified by the score by St. Vincent. Could that be any cooler?? Here’s an interview with Stewart about the film.

I love what she’s up to, in general, as my recent essay attests, and I love that her short film is not what you would expect, on the face of it, but if you think about it for two seconds more, it makes perfect sense. She is process-oriented and extremely emotional and intuitive. She knew what she wanted, she started with an image of a man lying on the ocean floor, an image that haunted her: she wrote poems about it, she painted it, she dreamed about it.

In one interview she said that she wanted to make exterior an extremely interior experience. How you can become obsessed by – and saturated with – your own pain. A couple of months down the road, your pain may seem slightly ridiculous to you, you have stepped outside of it. That’s the epic journey of this 17-minute short. From totally interior, engulfed in the waves, to exterior, looking at the water. You have moved out of it.

The majority of the best art can said to come from that same impulse: making exterior that which is wholly interior. Inchoate feelings, images, emotions. What is inside you, what is it that you can’t let go of, what is it that you can’t put into words?

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2 Responses to “I’ve been thinking about this guy on the ocean floor for like 4 years, maybe even longer.” – Kristen Stewart

  1. mutecypher says:

    That was beautiful.

    Not knowing anything about it, I watched it before reading your comments or KS’s interview. I thought it was like the heartbreaking scene in Night of the Shooting Stars where the young girl is shot in the orchard and – not realizing that she is dying – imagines an entire life,. Only with the young man imaging these terrible, disorienting things as he drowns under the big wave.

    And then read your comments and her interview and watched it again. I hope she makes her own feature-length films.

  2. Nicola says:

    I loved it to. It really sticks with you. The sound design, editing, music, SFX all managed to really beautifully enhance the story or maybe rather the feeling she was after.

    I love this woman.

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