The dangers of walking around focused on your phone and not on the world around you are well-documented. In the opening scenes of Ellipsis, Jasper (Benedict Samuel) seems oblivious to these dangers. He's staring intently at his phone while moving quickly through central Sydney. He makes it through the Queen Victoria Building, but crossing George Street his luck finally runs out and he ploughs straight into Viv (Emily Barclay), who as a result of the collision drops her phone, shattering it on the pavement.
Effusive apologies follow as Jasper shepherds Viv onto the footpath. Jasper offers to pay for a replacement screen and the pair set out to find a phone shop. After negotiations with a steely-eyed phone repairman, it is agreed the phone will be fixed by 8am the next day. That's important, because Viv is returning home to London to be with her fiance in the morning. Jasper and Viv, both seemingly a little lost, keep making small talk and then stop for coffee. Jasper tells Viv he had planned on taking the bus to Bondi to see Sculpture by the Sea. He asks Viv if she wants to come with him and she agrees.
And so begins Jasper and Viv's strange Sydney night. Sculpture by the Sea is a bust: they've arrived too late and the sculptures are being hauled away. After wandering along the coastline, an amusing detour leads the pair back to town for dinner together. After dinner they stroll through Hyde Park to the city's inner east, stopping for drinks and encounters with locals. As the night grows longer, the pair keep roaming the city's streets, taking detours and learning more about each other.
Ellipsis is David Wenham's directorial debut and is a sweet and intriguing film, exploring chance and the random nature of human interactions. It's equally a film about a city and the characters who inhabit it, and being set largely in Kings Cross, there are plenty of colourful people to come across. A somewhat vague and mysterious subplot follows the mobile-phone repairman returning home to his apartment with Viv's broken phone.
But it's Jasper and Viv who are the main points of interest. And Benedict Samuel and Emily Barclay offer fine performances - they're both so likeable that you want them both to succeed, even though you have no idea what it is you want them to succeed at. The odd things that happen to the pair over the course of the night make you like them even more.
Ellipsis is a pleasing film. Low-budget and experimental to be sure, but offering an impressive return on investment. The film's vagaries are many, perhaps too many for some, but the lack of full disclosure provides much of the allure. Jasper and Viv's wild and weird night out in Sydney is worth coming along for.
Luna Palace Cinemas and Arenamedia are presenting a special screening of Ellipsis followed by a Q&A with director David Wenham and executive producer Robert Connolly, at Luna Leederville on Sunday 18 Feb at 4.30pm. David Wenham will also introduce a screening of Ellipsis at Camelot Outdoor in Mosman Park at 8.00pm. Tickets for both screenings are available here