Not the Mel Gibson alien movie (for all those who may be disappointed), Signs is a short film by Australian director Patrick Hughes.  Although it only goes for 12 minutes and was originally released in 2008, lately it has drawn a lot of attention from the media, so I decided to check it out (because seriously, it’s only 12 minutes long).

Signs is a film with almost no dialogue, but rather uses emphasised background noise (train rollicking, papers shuffling etc), a beautiful soundtrack that changes with the protagonist’s mood, and well, signs, to convey the storyline.  It follows Jason, a young man who it appears, has recently moved to the city for his job.  The only thing is, his work is boring (office life, I can relate), he has no friends, and he’s stuck in a big city, all alone.  Then, one day, he spies a woman who is in the building adjacent to him and they strike up a ‘conversation’.  Why the quotation marks?  Well, they don’t literally speak to one another.  Rather, they pass the day writing notes to one another, which they hold up to the window.  Of course, romance blooms.

What I liked about this film was that despite the fact that it’s so short, that we don’t really know anything about the characters, there’s no dialogue and there’s essentially only two characters, you still kinda fall in love with both of them.  I felt for Jason when he went from day-to-day, bored with the monotony of his life, alone but unwilling to return home to his parents (I assume).  And while the whole thing had a sad, slightly creepy vibe to it, it was also quite sweet.  And let’s be honest, if I spent the whole day looking at spreadsheets, I’d probably fall in love with the pretty girl in the next building over too.

As previously mentioned, Signs ended up in the spotlight recently after the Disney animated film Paperman won an Oscar.  Why, you ask?  Well, Paperman is a short film about a man who works in a office who falls for the girl next door…who he conveys to via paper planes.  Sound familiar?  Many people are complaining that Paperman ended up with the Oscar only because it was produced by Disney, and so had the financial backing to receive more attention and advertising leading up to the awards.  And that basically they were ripping Hughes’ film off.  Very awkward.

Director Patrick Hughes however, when asked of his opinion, merely said, “there are similarities, but I really admire the short, I think it’s beautiful”.  What a classy guy.

If you’ve got a spare 12 minutes up your sleeve, need a daily dose of romance, or just appreciate slightly quirky, but very well executed films, check out Signs below.

Have you seen Signs or Paperman?  What did you think?  Let me know!

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