10:17 is the first instalment of writer and director Stephen Cole Webley’s short film trilogy exploring the themes of life, love, and loss. 10:17 also happens to be a masterclass in subtlety. Webley follows the golden rule of film to a T and shows rather than tells. In the entire nine and a half minute short, there are less than forty words spoken. Instead, we see the pain of restraint, acted out beautifully by Luis Dubo and Daniela Ramirez.
This restraint in dialogue proves to be a perfect vehicle for the short’s twist. We open on Luis Dubo, walking around an empty and sterile hotel room. He pauses on the balcony to drink some wine. He makes a call, but the recipient never answers. We never find out who the call was intended for, and we are interrupted by Daniela Ramirez’s entrance. Much younger and more attractive than Dubo. Webley paints a familiar and painfully awkward scene, with Dubo’s character unsure of when to hand over the money to Ramirez. He leads her to the bedroom, she undoes his shirt, he lies on the bed…
One of the most compelling visual elements is the wide range of mirror shots, used as foreshadowing within this short, and perhaps to allude to ideas developed in the next instalments. One of the most dazzling shots is when Dubo leads Ramirez into his bedroom, seen through the fragmented reflection of a mosaic mirror, and alluding that things may not be exactly as they appear.
Webley utilizes preconceived notions of human interactions and the natural urge to jump to assumptions to steer his short in a completely unpredictable direction and leaves us with an ending that leaves us asking more questions than it can answer. It will be very interesting to see where Webley takes the story in the following shorts of this trilogy.