Incredibly Small

Incredibly Small


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Incredibly Small pulls off the ideal finish of seeming a far greater whole than the sum of its parts ever felt they would really achieve. With such a slender premise, set up and resolution, the fact that its small ideas can resonate so well afterwards is a minor triumph.

Amir (Stephen Gurewitz) and Anne (Susan Burke) are recent college graduates who step up their relationship by moving into a cramped studio apartment. Anne, an aspiring law student, is less than impressed with the size of her new home and its portentous damp patch. Amir hardly seems bothered, more interested in dreaming of being a sculptor while bunking off from his job as an escalator attendant.

As new neighbour Tom (Alex Karpovsky) insidiously helps to expose Amir’s shortcomings, the claustrophobic surrounds of their home and relationship push Anne to breaking point.

One of writer-director Dean Peterson’s notions appears to be to test how dramatically you can shift an audience’s sympathies in a simple story. A fair bit, it would seem. Boldly starting with Amir showing hardly any redeeming qualities, we’re asked to side with the ambitious, suffering Anne. Peterson then segues focus to the jilted slacker struggling to reap what little he has sown so far in adult life. Amir genuinely starts to elicit some understanding from us, while never betraying the roots of who the character is. He might not be that appealing or mature, but he becomes more rounded. It’s a wonderfully designed move that’s held to the credits and owes a lot to Peterson’s simple yet shrewdly structured screenplay.

Other aspects are less charming. The satellite characters are far more sketchy, some to the point of caricature, and some of the acting may aspire to mumblecore but feels forced. After a little nose-scrunching cuteness Burke owns the first half, fading a little once Gurewitz expands, revealing more of Amir with understatement and less with irritating dialogue. The camerawork reinforces the changing viewpoint, with a gentle move from intimate framing to more distanced, alienating shots. Some later obscuring foreground work over-eggs it a bit, though.

Peterson’s moments of humour don't quite hit their notes cleanly, but the pathos he grows is occasionally pitch perfect. It all builds to those final scenes when these simple characters manage to communicate volumes, although not to each other. No scene is a standout and the conclusion is deliberately unremarkable. It almost doesn’t matter, as by now Peterson has induced the poignancy of a faltered relationship, the touching recognition of two young people inevitably just missing new connections as their old ones wear out. The evocation lets this decidedly small US indie transcend its flaws to reverberate with a rather larger human experience after it is finished.

Reviewed on: 06 Oct 2010
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A guy, a girl, a 300 square foot apartment – let the fight begin.
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Director: Dean Peterson

Writer: Stephen Gurewitz, Dean Peterson

Starring: Susan Burke, Stephen Gurewitz, Alex Karpovsky, Amy Seimetz, Alex Rennie, Ron Lynch, Bob Byington, Charles Hubbell, Dave Mercer, Darlene Westgor

Year: 2010

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: US


Raindance 2010

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