Encounter is a short film directed by Giacomo De Bello that details the encounter between two strangers at a train station. The film centers on their unique encounter without actually using dialogue to make the characters interact.
The film starts with a guy sitting on a bench, tapping his leg as he waits for the train. A girl approaches the scene and it’s as if the sound of her footsteps and his tapping combine to become a specific kind of music. It’s the music of chance and timing and it’s these sounds that build up to the moment where these two characters lock eyes for the first time. The way these scenes are shot is impressive and significant to the storytelling because the camera pans to each of them from different angles. It moves to their faces with such speed, showing that there is a beauty to how this encounter is unpredictable and fast moving as well. Then, the film pauses on close ups of each of their faces where it seems as though they’re looking directly into the camera. The point of these beautiful shots of their eyes is to capture the individual reactions upon gazing at each other without having them introduce themselves or actually say anything to one another. It shows the attraction rather than explain it, which is what makes this beginning scene so compelling for an audience that wants to truly feel emotion.
One of this film’s many strengths is that it did not use words to convey its message about vulnerability and interaction. It was the very absence of words that allowed for the storytelling of body language. The way that the guy would tap his hands on his legs, for example, expressed the anxiety of wanting to talk to the girl. I could feel that emotion so vividly and as a result it helped build up the anticipation to something happening between these two people.
A constant theme throughout the film is hesitation in the face of desire. The two characters acknowledge each other through a series of looks, but there is always a hesitation to actually approach each other and have direct contact. This hesitation is realistic of a pair of strangers who find one another attractive. It’s the fear of being rejected by the object of our affections that holds us back from expressing everything we feel. If there was no fear, we’d all just say every thought on our minds and that can be both beneficial and detrimental.
Personally, as I watched the characters hesitate to communicate, I found myself getting frustrated. I kept wondering who would make the first move and when exactly they would do it. I realized that it wasn’t fair to be annoyed or upset about the lack of interaction between this pair of individuals. We sometimes think that love stories happen easily and fluidly like it’s inevitable for two people to not be together. In reality, it can be more complex, less put together and far more difficult from the versions of two strangers meeting that come out of romantic comedies.
In this film, it’s clear that both of the characters had to use significant effort in order to inch closer to actually meeting one another and start talking. For example, the guy takes out his headphones before he boards the train to make it easier to start up a conversation. The girl pretends to drop her book so that the guy will see and maybe pick it up for her. They each wait for these perfect opportunities to talk to each other. Something ends up getting in the way however and the chances all fade. So, the question arises: why are we all waiting if we want to do something badly enough? Fear is real, but I don’t believe that it should dictate how we choose to live our lives. It shouldn’t be the reason why we hold back and deny ourselves the chance to live and experience life in all its crazy bliss. If fear had won out in this situation, this film would’ve hardly had a story at all. It would’ve just been a missed opportunity and the anticipation would’ve become far too exhausting to watch. Instead, the film shows that we can only wait so long before we eventually have to be brave enough to take a risk and make the first move. The first move doesn’t always have to be as spectacular or intricate as speaking all our feelings. Sometimes, it’s just about letting another person know we’re interested and being vulnerable enough to give them a way into our lives.