Writer-director Nicholas Anthony’s debut feature, shot entirely on iPhone 13 Pro Max, takes us into the mind of Max (Bronte Charlotte), a woman in Melbourne on the verge of turning 30. A struggling writer, she’s hit a wall where her youthful enthusiasm and drive have been worn down by rejection. As she tries to live a normal life, she’s haunted by memories of her ex and her failures as her mind starts to play tricks on her.
What begins as an interesting youthful hang out movie—chronicling the adventures of bisexual Max as she parties and fights with her housemate, going on bad dates and fumbling her way through a corporate day job—goes on to take a darker tone as she abruptly stats losing time. Each edit in the film is like her memory being shaken. Days and weeks start to disappear or blur together. Is this real, or is it just her overactive, under-stimulated imagination at work?
Shot primarily in black and white around Melbourne, Anthony captures the city with a youthful and romantic air, often using familiar classical music to draw us in, before sharply cutting it to bring us back to reality. The city looks great, living up to its more European vibe, while the tightness of the 4:3 framing forces us into Max’s immediate vicinity. The intimacy feels almost painful at times, folllowing a character who struggles to connect with the people around her.
Influences of the French New Wave abound, as well as more recent Frances Ha. While the house party scenes reminded me of 90s Australian queer Gen X film Love and Other Catastrophes. All welcome touchstones.
Bronte Charlotte is engaging as the permanently discombobulated Max, at first funny and quirky, those quirks begin to hint at a more concerning psychological issue. Frustratingly, Max’s deeper journey feels abruptly cut off in the third act by a resolution that feels almost glib. But for a micro-budget debut film, In The Meantime delivers far and beyond expectations. Considering both Anthony and Charlotte both took on multiple roles in the production—Anthony is also listed as cinematographer, sound designer, colourist, and co-editor; while they both handled casting—this is an impressive showcase to their considerable talents and tenacity.
By Chad Armstrong
In The Meantime receives its World Premiere at the 33rd annual Melbourne Queer Film Festival on Tuesday, November 14th, 2023. MQFF33 runs November 9th-19th. For the full lineup and to purchase tickets head to mqff.com.au.