Candid Cinema

‘Notes’ Short Film Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

‘Notes’ is a short film, written and directed by Jimmy Olsson. We see that Philip moves into a corporate apartment for a project, the only thing that accompanies him is his keyboard. We feel his loneliness because he keeps reaching out to his girlfriend back home, only for her not to give him the same attention. Out of his love for her, and to pass the time, Phillip composes a song for her. Olsson explores one man’s loneliness and longing, through the power of music. Once Phillip gets into the groove of writing the song, his longing for his girlfriend, and their now distant relationship, causes writer’s block. As he continues to push forward, a friendly tune from the apartment over, helps him compose the song with their own keyboard.

The emotional connection to the notes, from both pianists is definitely felt through those walls. What Olsson also shows is the power of checking in on one another because we truly do not know how everyone is feeling. Olsson showed the audience what Philip was going through, but kept the pianist in the next apartment hidden. The music is what carried Philip through this hardship that he faced. The way both of them answered back through the keys was more powerful than words could ever express. The pianist in the other apartment could feel his loss, his sorrow, and at times his anger. It was a safe way for Philip to unleash his pain and there was someone who was listening.

The essence of his loneliness is felt from the very beginning of the film. Olsson established the new surroundings quite quickly and had Philip settle into his apartment. There was such range in Philip’s performance, as he showed the different stages of loss. We see that he is struggling with his detachment from his girlfriend, but manages to cope with being alone. As the film goes on, he feels this loss with every little thing she doesn’t do. He was reserved at the start and then slowly unraveled with the news his girlfriend gave him, ultimately spiralling into darkness.

‘Notes’ highlights the power of music and how it can always heal the soul. It shows the importance of listening and reaching out to anyone, even if you do not know them as well. There are some really powerful moments here and it is because Olsson lets the music breathe and puts emphasis on the emotional connectivity to the piece. He frames Philip’s face and shows his facial reactions while playing. And, when he hears the other pianist answer back, there is this sense of relief. Even though Philip experiences loss, this film is still uplifting and heartfelt.

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