(Trigger warning, police brutality)
At a run time of only thirty-two minutes, this short film is a must watch that I’d highly recommend to anyone that can spare the time.
Two Distant Strangers (2020) centers around Carter James (Joey Bada$$) as he tries to get back home to his pitbull, Jeter, after spending a night at the apartment of his date Perri (Zaria Simone). What gets in the way of Carter reuniting with his dog is that every time he tries to leave Perri’s apartment, he is killed by police and wakes up back in her bed in a never-ending cycle.
Without diving into too much detail on the film’s contents (it is only thirty minutes after all) this presentation is a must watch for anyone. It addresses the issue of police brutality which rightly has been in the public eye more and more with the unjust deaths caused at the hands of law enforcement. The symbolism in how Carter repeats his death is clear and powerful. No matter how many times he goes through the ordeal, no matter what approach he has to the officer, he still always dies in the end. This address is the problematic thinking that some have that “oh, if only the victim did this or that differently, if they didn’t resist, if they complied maybe they wouldn’t have been killed.” Two Distant Strangers shows the flaw in that argument, mirroring real-life victims who didn’t push back against law enforcement, such as Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor and many others. In a sense the narrative almost breaks the fourth wall with Carter blatantly invoking “I can’t breathe” -words spoken by Eric Garner as he died from an officer putting him in a chokehold, and George Floyd as he died from an officer kneeling on his neck- and has been largely adapted by the Black Lives Matter movement as a powerful purposeful chant. It directly speaks to the audience, and forces them to associate the events of the story to actual cases making the conflict all the more real and prevalent.
Not to go very in depth in fear of spoiling the ending, but let’s say there’s no real solid conclusion. This might be to the detriment of other works but in Two Distant Strangers, it adds to the message the film wants to convey and it speaks volumes. It alludes to how this toxic cycle may never truly be over. It’s unlikely ignorance or hate will ever be indefinitely defeated, but we can strive to make it so, and we can have hope to diminish it as much as possible in our society. We need to manifest the courage and determination to fight everyday (much like Carter does to reunite with Jeter) against the discrimination we see in the world until the cycle of systematic racial abuse is broken.
As an overall score I would rate Two Distant Strangers a 5/5 for it’s excellent incorporation of social issues and furthering to highlight them, great acting, and a lot of interesting background details that a viewer may not catch on the first watch.
As an Incluvie score, the film again gets a 5/5 for having a strong black lead and the whole premise of the short film revolving around Black Lives Matter’s cause.