There are still a few days left of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but it may have already reached its highpoint. The short film Noah premiered earlier this week to almost immediate hype, filled with praise and high recommendations, which it undoubtedly earned. As part of TIFF’s “Short Cuts Canada” series, Noah is only 17 minutes long, but tells an emotional, relatable story in that time. What sets Noah apart from every other short film is that the entire plot unfolds on the title character’s computer screen, as well as a few times on his iPhone.
The format itself is definitely fascinating, but Noah is worth watching for its actual story, too. The film sticks to its commitment of only showing Noah’s story through a screen, we only see his face when he’s using Skype or Chatroulette and even the closing credits are shown on TextEdit. Through these, as well as Facebook, iMessage and a few others, we see the story of high school student Noah and his girlfriend Amy. The story is bound to be painfully familiar for any one watching, especially teenaged audiences so used to communicating online.
Even more familiar is the way that Noah, Amy and other characters talk and behave. We see Noah close a bunch of Wikipedia tabs on Google Chrome, his Desktop is crowded with documents and folders, his friend calls Amy a bitch between invitations to play Call of Duty. Noah’s Facebook behavior is definitely something many viewers will relate to, even if they don’t want to admit it.
A story told only through a Mac and iPhone may sound artificial or impersonal, but the most impressive thing about Noah is its sincerity and emotional impact. Through two screens in 17 minutes, I felt more connected to Noah and Amy than I have to the characters of two-hour dramas.
When you can, watch Noah below (NSFW warning, due to an extremely realistic Chatroulette sequence). It’s easily worth the 17 minutes and will leave you thinking about it for much longer.