In praise of Rose Hendry’s visually dominant filmmaking style.
Rose Hendry’s trademark filmmaking style is hard to miss. Visually dominant and aurally sensual, her vignettes are portraits of character, obscurity and domesticity that entice the viewer into the realms of the surreal.
‘Chips & Cherryade’ stylistically defines the whole series, albeit somewhat more full-bodied. A middle-aged bloke, leather waistcoat, generous goatee and balding head; wouldn’t be out-of-place in a dingy pub in middle England. His environment is oddly quirky, not for the dated furniture or the patterned wallpaper but more for the nagging feeling that this is his parental home. A quick glimpse of some awkward school photos, a smiling ceramic pig and a kitschy portrait of Jesus and we’re set up to feel slightly uneasy about this character as he ritualistically aligns his dinner table.
It’s a film that paints a portrait, certainly, but it also is a worship to detail. With a set constructed in a studio environment, the film has a unique characterisation that creates a strong personal identity without the need for dialogue. Each shot is definitive, allowing us to voyeuristically indulge in his identification, each passing judgement further building up fabrication.
Hendry forms a micro-climate in her films out of colour and sound design alone. DOP Ian Forbes, who worked on the whole series, pushes the look just beyond the limits of believability, creating a bizarre model-home atmosphere in both ‘Chips & Cherryade’ and ‘Egg & Fag’.
‘Egg & Fag’ and ‘Bird Bath’ are less focused on character but instead allow for more irony. ‘Bolt’ and ‘Glace Cherry’ take this to the extreme, boasting a full 16 seconds and still able to earn a laugh through playful titling. Both are visually decadent in their colour pallets, bordering on gaudy. Once again it is the use of sound in the films which stands out, refreshingly unique among the drone of ‘artistic’ short film.
Aside from these vignettes, Hendry has worked on select few music videos, a medium succinct to her style. Davey Horne ‘Down Deep’ plays with sharp colour backdrops, Ado ‘The Ultra’ is a far more ambitious project – sexual, sensual and equally quirky. Her upcoming film ‘Stovies’ tells the story of an ill man inspired to get creative. Having been featured at the BFI Future Film: Beat the Competition screening, it will undoubtedly make its way onto the festival circuit very soon.
Although Hendry employs no dialogue, or for that matter rarely any narrative, she is by all means a skilled storyteller and her films teasingly invoke question after question. Offering the viewer plenty of depth to delve into, it is hard to forget these fleeting films.