An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is an eclectic portrayal of one man’s desire to investigate how the mind feverishly works to define and understand relationships. More specifically, the kind of relationship every man fears: a platonic relationship with the woman they love. What started out as a short film titled How Would You Feel, writer/director Terence Nance invites the audience into a very intimate space, and by blending narrative, documentary, and beautiful animation styles he interweaves two different films that compliment and inform the other.
As powerful as the language and truth is in this film what struck me as being particularly noteworthy is its organic nature. This project gets better as more is added to it. What started out as a journey through the male perspective in How Would You Feel, evolves when we are invited to see the beginnings of the female perspective of the relationship as well. It’s an exciting prospect for me as a filmgoer to experience a film in one place and time, and enjoy it for what it intends to say with the full knowledge that it can only evolve in complexity from that point on as more character perspectives are introduced and explored. I fully believe film is a commentary on the time it was created, but I also think it can grow with you as an audience member, and An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is a perfect example of the potential in this form of storytelling.
And what a story it is. Rich in its dialogue, which is primarily delivered through narration, there are moments when the film has so many wonderful things to say that it gets a little bogged down in wordiness. So eager was I to swallow every word that it was sometimes difficult to follow each sentence to its intended conclusion. One is reminded of Orsini-Rosenberg’s critique of Mozart in Amadeus: “too many notes.” But the use of language in this film is so deliberate–including the cadence of the narration sequences–that it is an easy fault to forgive. Everything about the film, from what is said, to what is seen reminds one of a brain in the midst of frenzied over-analysis. There is so much to unravel and dissect it is almost impossible not to watch this film again and again.
I also admire this film’s complete lack of phony sentimentality. Our leading man is more dedicated to his understanding of why he is in this relationship than feeling sorry for himself. With any other film dealing with the ramifications of a one-sided platonic relationship, we would be yelling at the screen, begging the afflicted party to see reality and get out while he/she still can. There is nothing illogical about this man in An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. And it’s through his actions and discoveries that we learn more about our own past experiences regardless of their similarity.
This is definitely a film still alive and growing and I am interested to see how much more could be added to this examination of human relationships. Our hearts and minds are never content until somethings are resolved, defined and understood to our satisfaction.
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is now playing at the Ritz Bourse.
Author: Jill Malcolm
Jill is happiest attending midnight screenings with other crazy film fans at her local theater. Her other passions include reading, traveling to faraway places, cat videos, pugs, and jalapeño peppers. She is co-founder of the blog Filmhash.