Caroline of Virginia
Reviews, Feedback, Press
REVIEWS & PRESS:
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC by Richard Propes
ROGUE CINEMA by Jason S. Lockard
THE HARMONY OF NEW YORK by Shalini Adnani at TimesSquare.com
The Harmony of New York by Shalini Adnani
Although self-proclaimed New Yorkers would find themselves in utter discomfort and in silent retreat where the slight drop of a pin sends sound waves miles away; they still nag about the constant sirens interrupting their phone conversations, the trucks unloading at the crack of dawn and their neighbor's foot steps that can be heard through the walls. Eric Norcross' short film Caroline of Virginia puts all of these nuisances and noises in a different light. Caroline (Lauren Meley), a deaf and dumb girl from Virginia, has a romantic encounter with The Musician (Michael Scott Ross) at her workplace, yet she never would have imagined a mere smirk would turn her world upside down. Yearning for someone to truly appreciate his music, The Musician, gives Caroline the ability to hear—but there is a catch. He has to give up his ability to listen after three days of a pitch perfect limbo with Caroline. What initially seems like another cheesy love story takes an unexpected twist with the humorous appearance of a wizard (Hall Hunsinger) granting The Musician a wish. It is this surrealist twist, together with Hall Hunsinger's quirky humor, that adds a layer of depth to the plot.
Norcross artistically explores the sounds of New York we take for granted, from the constant honks and accelerators from the streets, to balloons popping and of course the enthralling music that surrounds us. Lauren Meley's ability to play both deaf and dumb was truthful as well as her amusement with all the newfound sounds she encounters. Through Virginia's untenable ears these three romantic days of an ill-fated love story left a poignant dent in my mind and most of all caught me by surprise—what initially felt superficial and cliché turned into a 37 minute film that, with Norcross' zeal, was both picturesque and most of all mellifluous.
"The acting, camera work, and of course the concept and direction were all wonderful. The many city scenes, including the shots from (Lincoln Plaza), are terrific."
-Barbara M. Massachusetts.
"This is one of our favorite movies."
Caroline of Virginia by Richard Propes
I love fairy tales.
I know. I know. That may sound incredibly strange for those of you who visit this little world of mine often and recognize me as the rather jaded film writer and social justice activist.
But I do. I love fairy tales.
While I don't always invest myself in the ideas of hope and love and sacrifice, I love to reflect upon them and to immerse myself in a world that includes them.
Caroline of Virginia is a fairy tale set in the very real world of New York City. The film takes place during the New York City transit strike and centers around Caroline (Lauren Meley), a deaf young woman who works in a bookstore. One day, she has a quietly romantic encounter with an under-appreciated musician (Michael Scott Ross).
The two click, perhaps recognizing in each other an unacknowledged strength of heart and spirit. He sees in her a young woman who is taunted and teased for her physical challenges yet her spirit is never extinguished and she, in turn, genuinely appreciates his music even if it is something she cannot hear herself.
A chance encounter with a wizard (Hall Hunsinger), this is a fairy tale after all, leads to our musician being granted the wish that Caroline be able to truly hear his music. For the next three days, the wizard grants, the lovely young Caroline will be able to hear her new love's music. However, at the end of the three days there is a price for the musician to pay ... he himself will lose his own hearing.
Oh, but wait. There's one more catch. IF the New York City transit strike ends within these three days, the deal is null and void and our musician will have no price to pay for this most romantic of gestures.
Caroline of Virginia is proof positive that you can create a sweeping, magical fairy tale within the confines of a lower budget, indie short film. We like to say that the greatest benefit a film can have is genuine talent, and Caroline of Virginia is filled to the brim with talent both on and off the screen.
Of course, it all begins with Caroline. To be a convincing fairy tale, a film simply must convince in both the the real world and the world that transcends the human experience. Lauren Meley gives a beautiful performance as a young woman who seemingly manages to find the beauty in her everyday life despite her own physical challenges. Meley's performance as a deaf young woman, at least to this non-hearing impaired film writer, was so convincing that I found myself looking her up to see if she really was deaf (She's not). Watch Meley's eyes and body language as her miracle unfolds and she begins to experience life in a different way - it's as if we're watching an already beautiful flower blossom and reach up to the skies.
This is not to say that Michael Scott Ross is outshined, though his performance is definitely lower key. Ross has the unenviable task of playing opposite a wizard, played with relentless enthusiasm and quirkiness by Hall Hunsinger. Ross has a rather quiet "guy next door" charm about him. You can't help but get the sense that his music, at least until he meets Caroline, is his one safe place in the world. It's no small trick to create a transcendent and magical interaction on the big screen without all the usual CGI gimmicks to do so, but the interactions between the musician and the wizard are both grounded and otherworldly. Ross's chemistry with Meley is quiet and sweet and natural and, perhaps most importantly, you get the sense that these two would be an absolutely lovely couple even without some miracle entering their lives. Ross exudes the type of warmth that makes you fully believe that our young musician really would fully invest himself in learning Caroline's language if it meant a genuine connection.
Caroline of Virginia was shot on a micro-budget and those budgetary restrictions are evident at times in the film's production quality, but rather than focus on the inherent limitations and tech quirks that come with producing a low-budget indie short it's impossible not to admire how much Norcross accomplishes given the obvious challenges he faced. John Langley creatively addresses the challenges of creating a sound design that balances both the fairy tale world and the very real world of Caroline both before and after hearing becomes a part of her life. Langley takes the very real sounds of New York City and weaves them into the film's auditory story, an approach that both works within the story's framework and also helps to lessen the impact of any budgetary concerns on the audio experience. Norcross himself does the same thing with the camera work, expertly using lighting to create the fairy tale world while working with the natural New York City setting.
Caroline of Virginia is the kind of film that you watch and then think to yourself "I want to watch it again," having become so enchanted with its characters and the simplicity yet honesty of its story.