Late Fragment

Synopsis: Faye, Kevin and Théo – three troubled strangers, three lives fractured by thoughts and acts of violence. In the interactive feature film Late Fragment, their narratives interlock in a unique cinematic experience in which you play a creative and interactive role. Navigating through the movie, you uncover their stories, and their secrets, at will, controlling the flow and direction of the elaborate sequencing with a simple click.

These characters, unknown to one another as well as to themselves, would never have met were it not for their participation in a series of Restorative Justice group sessions. In this process, perpetrators and victims of violent crime, broken by their lives, look for wholeness, balance, forgiveness, safety – and perhaps even redemption. In just such a setting, Faye, Kevin and Théo are compelled to confront their histories and unravel their secrets. The truth can be plain but it is not often simple.

Restorative Justice is one thing; personal amnesty, quite another. You, the audience, piece together, both literally and figuratively, the cinematic narrative in front of you.
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Late Fragment 7.5?

Late Fragment is an interactive film that lets audiences piece together, both literally and figuratively, the cinematic narrative in front of them. The physical experience is not unlike channel surfing in front of the television, except imagine that each channel presents different scenes from the same story. Sitting on the couch, remote control in hand, audiences can click “enter” on their remote control, and impact the way the story unfolds, sequencing the events of the story depending on when and how often they click “enter.” Late Fragment is like many of the non-linear movies we have come to love including Crash, Short Cuts, and Amores Perros. But with Late Fragment audiences now impact what scene they may get next.” – from the official ‘Late Fragment’ website

I saw this NFB production in the “previously enjoyed” (is there a more unfortunate and disturbing label for any product? Ugh…) bin at a local store and was immediately intrigued by the concept. I like the notion of interactivity and I had never heard of a film that might play out this way. So I put it at the top of my list of things to get.

Fast forward to now, many months later, and I’ve finally gotten around to watching it (wholly inspired by the interactive fun I was having with a ‘Dragon’s Lair’ game). It took a while, sure, but it was well worth checking out. Having said that, it’s difficult to assess the film after only one viewing…. :/

You see, the film has close to 400 possible clicks and many more possible permutations; there are something like 35 scenes and they’re all broken down in various bits (which are then played in a seemingly random way at the viewer’s leisure). On my first attempt, the film lasted somewhere in the 80-minutes range and it was pretty coherent; I got a good sense of the story and the background of the feature characters.

The acting was solid but nothing outstanding; I can’t think of any actors who were unlikeable or awe-inspiring. As for the directing and editing, well, that’s difficult to comment on seeing as these are three short films directed by three different crews, and everything is dissected for this unique DVD experience. Frankly, I had no complaints whatsoever – so I suppose that it can’t be all bad.

I can’t say that the film itself was that impressive or memorable, either, but one could argue that I’m reacting to the way it was put together by my choices – so it’s hard to say what the film would be like with more control and real editing tools. Still, I enjoyed the drama of each life, liked the way the film vacillated from one part to the next (it was relatively seamless!) and enjoyed the final outcome.

I’m actually impressed with it enough to want to try it again – when I have 90 minutes to spare and while the original experience is still fresh. Being able to enjoy a film many different ways like this is kind of infectious, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people got hooked on watching only this film, over and over again, for a lengthy period of time.

It may not be unique (a Danish crew did it in 2003!), but it’s still fresh enough that this Canadian team deserves mention. ‘Late Fragment’, if only because of its concept, and its strong execution, is well worth the time of the curious and the cinephile alike.

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