If Only I Was Simone De Beauvoir

If Only I Was Simone De Beauvoir


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Kari Corbett, who directs, stars, is an actress. A brief stint in Hollyoaks, apparently, time in The Royal, Monarch Of The Glen, though not in UK television actor mills like The Bill or Casualty. Simone De Beauvoir, who supplies some of the dialogue via recordings, is, was, a French existential philosopher, author on the subject of gender politics, lover of Sartre.

In split screen: Kari is dolled up, made up, reciting answers from interviews with magazines about her own career; Kari is (it would seem) without makeup, hair back, lit with a reserve and staring over at herself on the other side of the screen. When Kari talks it's about "Hollyoaks babes" and "bikini shots" and when Kari is not talking she is biting her lip and trying to smile and catching herself. When Kari has Simone talking for her she is arch and posed and solid and when she does not have Simone talking for her she observes, the audience and herself.

This is what can be reconstructed, after the fact. As screened at the Glasgow Film Festival it was without titles, context that would seem essential is missed. According to IMDB Kari has three magazine covers to her credit, publicity shots for BBC and ITV and Channel 4 programmes doubtless abound but this is just Kari. Well, Kari, and Simone, but without that information one is certain one is missing something, and, well, one is.

There's something interesting here, but it's an arch construct without foundation. Classed as experimental it's proof that every experiment tells us something, even if it's only that a given arrangement does not work. That's not to say it's bad, far from it, but as with so many shorts important information is left in the programme notes, the schedule. A short should aim to be self-contained, as with any film, complete in and of itself. If it needs a glossary, like Dune, or a leaden voiceover, like Ultraviolet, then something has gone wrong in either execution or interpretation. Ostensibly aiming to critique the cultural construction of female identity, If Only I Was Simone De Beauvoir does manage to raise questions about how women are treated in the media, but not enough.

Without pretending to understand every vagary of the mid-shelf magazine industry one cannot be certain that the words of her interviews were all hers, nor have we context for the whens and wheres and 'what is she wearing?' of titles like Heat. As such the film feels incomplete, intriguing, certainly, but like a sketch rather than a draft. There seems a need to have, well, more - if nothing else what evil is integrated in it is implied, unconscious, unwitting. Perhaps there's something in the title and relative surety - this is only Kari's second film behind the camera, and while there's talent on display the film does not bring its scaffold with it.

Reviewed on: 25 Feb 2011
Share this with others on...
Experimental short.
Amazon link

Director: Kari Corbett

Writer: Kari Corbett

Year: 2010

Runtime: 5 minutes

Country: US


Glasgow 2011

Search database: