Christopher Alan Broadstone’s “A Catch in Time: Chapter One”

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Cover art for A Catch in Time. Image source: amazon.com

Propulsive. Disorienting. Frantic.

These are a few adjectives that describe the experience of watching A Catch in Time: Chapter One, the new short from author and filmmaker Christopher Alan Broadstone.

Vivid. Colorful. Unsettling.

Those are a few more.

To make it plain, Catch is an intriguing teaser for a work of potential greatness.

While many low-budget filmmakers overestimate their capabilities and the quality of their story in conjunction with the resources at their disposal, Broadstone uses a cunning strategy:

Instead of a feature-length adaptation, he builds interest with a “less is more” approach.

Catch is indeed short, running a modest 17 minutes. Employing a combination of shrewd editing, menacing sound effects, and surreal imagery, it casts a hypnotic spell from the outset.

Unlike some shorts, which take a vignette and see it to a (typically) logical conclusion, Catch is a different beast. An interpretation of the opening of Broadstone’s titular novella, it covers a lot of narrative and thematic ground, to the point where the voice-over is often rendered breathless in the mad and maddening rush to accomplish much in very little time.

Remember what I said about “less is more”? Well, “more is more” also applies to Catch. It’s a bit of a paradox.

Having been familiar with the cover art to Broadstone’s novella, I was expecting the film to be something more forthright in intent. This teaser uses misdirection and a jarring flow of dynamic, stream-of-consciousness imagery to establish a mood that is almost soap-operatic in its conventions.

In the fall of 1938, Tatiana Marita Ospina (Julie Zepeda) – a young woman from a wealthy family – resides in a South American hotel as a storm rages outside. She sits in front of the fireplace in her posh suite, recollecting the events that led her there: a forced marriage, the iron-fist dictates of her father, and a shipwreck. She thinks back to more idealistic times as a student in Paris, and pores over volumes by Kafka and Wilde. But, in tandem with the raging storm and her own raging thoughts, Tatiana is stirred from her fortress of solitude by the cacophonous phantom rumblings stirring within the hotel itself. Foreshadowing a world thrown into chaos by the rise of the Nazi Party, she’s visited by a specter-to-be that throws her sense of reality into a dizzying tailspin.

As with any tale that uses the Third Reich as a narrative device, Broadstone doesn’t take this dark chapter in human history lightly. At certain points, excerpts from Triumph of the Will play behind the actors, threatening to swallow them in a fevered mass of pro-fascist sentiment. Indeed, while Tatiana is something of a riddle, possessing an illusory quality that complements the repeated attention to mirrors and vanity, she exists as a strong, confident, and independent figure destined for great – and possibly terrible – things.

That relentless storm imagery might be more than a metaphor. And I’m looking forward to reading A Catch in Time proper to find out.