Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
Plot: A well-educated, ambitious young man who struggles to find employment because he is from a marginalised community faces a difficult job interview and a crisis of conscience.
Background: The Inner View (a play on “the interview”) is a nine-minute short film which screened at the 2022 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF). At TTFF it was nominated for Best TT Film (it lost to Walt Lovelace documentary King David about Calypsonian David Rudder). The film was written and directed by actor, director, writer and producer Eric Barry, who writes for stage, screen, radio and online. In 2000, he launched Tête-À-Tête Théâtre, a theatre production company that he co-founded and has been the writer of the shows staged by the company. The Inner View, his third short film, was produced under Tête-À-Tête Théâtre. And, full disclosure, Barry is also my former drama teacher and a friend. But fear not; he will receive no special treatment because of that, and his film will be judged as any other. With that disclaimer, on to the review!
Review: The Inner View is a simple and effective film. The cast all do very well in their roles. Chaquille Charles displays an intelligence and vulnerability as Joshua Anthony, our very anxious interviewee. Kevon Brooks is witty and incisive as Joshua’s very practical friend Clarence, who we see giving our lead advice in flashback scenes that alternate with the interview scenes. And closing out the main cast is veteran actor Glenn Davis as Mr Manswell, the abrasive, bigoted businessman who interviews Joshua. Davis’ face is one I recognise from years of theatre in Trinidad, and he is easily the standout here, imbuing his seemingly vile character with a level of charm and even some humanity. And while both Charles and Brooks did make me chuckle a few times it was Davis and Mr Manswell’s tirade of political incorrectness that had me laughing the most.
The best aspect of this film is the balance of the dramatic and comedic aspects. The issue of class discrimination and stigmatisation is a serious one, and unfortunately continues to plague Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere. It would have been easy for Barry to beatify Joshua and demonise Mr Manswell (and the duo are clearly antagonist and protagonist respectively in this play), but the writer/director is interested in something more honest and nuanced. Framed in this interview is an inner view (you see what I did there?) of two disparate communities and an examination of the chasm in between them. And within that chasm is the debris of fear, hate and stereotyping, with nary a trickle of understanding. The continued reinforcement of the “they” and “them”. And while it would be tempting to treat Manswell as an upper class “they”, sadly the ability to dismiss and discriminate against a group of people is not relegated to any one class. Heck, some of the awful things that come out of his mouth may have come out of ours at some point, or at least entered our thoughts.
I may be waxing poetic here, but I believe the film’s intention was to stir introspection, thought and honest conversation, emphasis on honest. Because pretending it does not exist or whispering about it will change nothing. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Moving away from the overarching theme to the plot, The Inner View does a lot in its short runtime and ends with quite the cliffhanger. I know some viewers may find that choice frustrating, but this is a classic case of the journey being more important than the destination. And it is quite the journey of discovery not just for Joshua but for the viewer as well.
Score: 8 out of 10
And you can check out more Trini short content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating tabletop games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.