The documentary short film, Two Distant Strangers is a sci-fi drama with a running time of around 32 mins. Travon Free has written and co-directed the film with Martin Desmond Roe. Rapstar Joey Badass plays the protagonist Carter.
People might be of the opinion that not a lot of things could be done in merely 32 mins. But once you watch this short drama you will be persuaded to change your mind and think otherwise. This short film is carefully curated and the creative route taken by the writer is just astounding. It is an ingenious narrative that not only intrigues you but has an almost psychedelic ability to lull your brain and then suddenly flood in the information that you weren’t expecting.
‘Two Distant Strangers’ Summary
Carter wakes up in Perri’s (Zaris Simone) flat. She is the girl with whom he had spent the night. They have breakfast together and then Carter prepares to leave. He tells Perri that his dog was waiting for him back home and that’s why he needs to get back. He goes down on the street and an officer clad in uniform comes to him and asks if there is any problem. The officer says he would have to search him, but Carter resists and says that there are no reasonable grounds based on which the officer could do that. What starts as a skirmish suddenly turns into a wild melee, where Carter just cannot fathom what is happening with him. One moment he was just smoking his cigarette and thinking about the night he had spent with Perri and seconds later this officer was strangling him for no apparent reason. As soon as Carter suffocates and dies, we see him waking up next to Perri. We realize that it would have been a bad dream. Again he goes down and the same thing happens. He gets strangled and wakes up near Perri.
It is then we realize that he is stuck in a time loop. No matter what he does he just cannot seem to escape the unprecedented hate originating from the racist mindset of this officer.
The Nature of Possibilities
Again and again, the same events repeat. The modus operandi changes but the result remain the same i.e. Carter dies. Every time he wakes up, he tries to do things differently but no matter what he does, he ends up being killed.
It is then you realize what the filmmaker is trying to say in a subtle manner. It was never about you doing things differently. It was never about what Geroge Floyd could have done differently to escape the unjust wrath of the so-called protector of civil society. It was about a flawed ideology of that officer, which was so unshakeable and deeply rooted that no matter what a black man would have done, he would have found reasons to kill him in such a humiliating manner.
This film was not only about George Floyd but millions of those who had lost their lives due to some of the other kinds of discrimination. It is a hard fact to fathom that in this age and time there still exists a majority of people who discriminate on the basis of caste, sex, religion, and even color. It is disgraceful beyond measures.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Two Distant Strangers’ Ending Explained
Carter goes through the same dreadful events more than a hundred times. He is tired and is about to give up this endless charade of being blamed for something absurd just so that they find a reason to kill him. But he realizes one thing. He cannot stop. He can fall. But stopping is not an option. Stopping would mean that defeat was accepted. it would prove the oppressors to be right. The struggle, the anguish, and the despair would amount to nothing if he stops. Carter symbolizes every faction that has been oppressed in any part of the world. He says that he won’t give up and one day he will find a way to escape the remorseless clutches of this feudal system.
Two Distant Strangers never feeds you but leaves hints for you to analyze and develop your own perspective. That is the beauty of this sci-fi satire.
The short film won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film in the 2021 Academy Award Ceremony. Streaming on Netflix, you just cannot miss this detailed and ingenious piece of writing.
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