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Indie short film review: Waiting For the End of the World (full movie inside)
"Waiting for the End of the World" shows us a slice of reality that most people don't see-- the life of a night stocker.
If you go to this movie on Vimeo, you'll see that the director's description reads "deprived of human contact, and with only an overactive imagination to keep him company, Petr sets about his monotonous night shift at his local supermarket."
Yeah right, Deaville. I'm calling you out on that sneaky move.
You were really trying to make the opposite point: Petr doesn't have much of an imagination at all.
Why Deaville would misrepresent his own film is a whole other can of worms. Maybe he didn't want to come off as mean. Maybe he wanted to trick us into watching one kind of film, so that he could show us something completely different from what we expected. Maybe he thought that this short is a little too bleak for public consumption, so he tried to paint a smile over it.
Boop. Boop. Boooooooooooooop....
In the morning, Petr wakes up to the bleeping of his watch. When he goes to work, he slides his card and checks in with another bleep. Another series of bleeps mark his checking in and out of his scheduled break. All that bleeping, in combination with all of the metal and plastic textures that we see, tell us that Petr is living out a mechanical, soulless, Kafkaesque existence.
Here's the weird thing, though: Petr doesn't react to his situation with anything approaching existential angst. Yeah sometimes he's unhappy, but not in a soul-crushing, the-abyss-is-staring-back-at-me kind of a way. Petr's unhappiness is vague and transitory-- his situation is not much of a problem for him.
The Forrest Gumpish way that Petr's shirt is buttoned up to the top. The way his shirt looks freshly ironed, even though Petr knows he won't be interacting with anyone. The confused look on Petr's face as he squints and flicks his eyes back and forth while staring at a shelf.
Petr's clumsiness when he drops some cans lets us know that he's probably barely competent at his job. When he's dragging a cart down the isle, he swivels his head left and right like he's not quite sure where he's going. The way Petr talks about his job lets us know that he's not new, yet his employer has left a list of things for him to do. C'mon Petr-- shouldn't you know by now where you're going and what your responsibilities are?
After a couple days, most people would throw the new stock on the shelves (maybe in a half assed kind of way) so that they could then goof off, play around on their phone, read a book, work on some art, (the next Great American Novel!) take a nap or do some kind of hobby or something.
"Helloooooooo... is anybody out der?"
The fact that Petr casually munches a chip while watching a broken TV suggests that he's content to sit and stare at flickering lights. He playfully messes around with the PA, but instead of screaming or saying something weird, he goes "Helloooooo… is anybody out der?"
The movie isn't making fun of Petr, it's just being honest. It's clear that we're not dealing with an Amélie or an Ally McBeal here. Petr is not a guy with a highly imaginative inner life, but he does have some positive characteristics. He follows the directions that people leave for him. He cares about his job enough to run down the stairs if he's late. Petr even grinds his gears together to do some basic problem solving when encountering issues, instead of getting overwhelmed and calling for help.
In short Petr's not a bad guy, and he's not totally stupid either. He's just an average or maybe slightly below average guy, living his life and doing his job.
Waiting for the End
The title of the film "Waiting for the End of the World" takes on a whole new meaning, considering how Petr was characterized. Is the filmmaker waiting for the apocalypse to happen, so that guys like Petr will get burned to a crisp in an asteroid hailstorm or something? That could be, but the honest way he handles Petr and shows both the good and bad suggests that the filmmaker is aware that the world needs people like Petr. It seems more likely to me that the filmmaker is making the point that Petr is just waiting around for death-- his own personal end of the world.