With an appearance at the 2015 Cannes Short Film Corner already announced, Adam Zuehlke's contemplative and rather experimental 12-minute short film Evergreen is a experiential film that takes us, the viewers, inside the journey of a nameless couple brought vividly to life by Emily Fradenburgh and Aaron Courteau.
A cinematic reflection on love and relationships, permanence and evolution, Evergreen follows this exiled couple as they seek to find their way back to happiness.
What does it mean to form a lasting bond? How do we redefine ourselves over the course of our lives and our relationships?
These are the questions contained within Evergreen, a film that offers no easy answers because there are no easy answers. If you are seeking a paint-by-numbers love story, then Evergreen will very likely disappoint you. If, however, you yourself have struggled with the seemingly fleeting and often frustrating nature of relationships, then the words and images and even the setting of Evergreen will very likely resonate with you.
Evergreen uses the concept of immortality, though it uses it in a way that feels more authentic and grounded, to tell the story this man and woman who are telling a story. It could be their story. It could be your story. Maybe, just maybe, it's everyone's story in one way or another. At times possessing a darker tone, Evergreen weaves together its light and dark into a story that also about beginning and end.
Are you keeping track?
Maybe not. That's okay. Because, in the end, Evergreen is a film best experienced. Fradenburgh and Courteau expertly bring it to life, Fradenburgh with a boldness yet a vulnerability while Courteau possesses, at times, an almost swashbuckling spirit that is fun and frustrating and fabulous to watch as he struggles with words that have a far greater meaning.
D.P. Ryan Kron Thompson gives the film a feeling of both history and immediacy, a sense that we are looking at both past, present, and future for this couple. Production designer Norine Francis bathes the film in a sense of desolation and intimacy, simultaneously polar opposites yet impossibly attracted.
Evergreen won't be everyone's cup of tea precisely because it is unafraid to be exactly what it is, a testament to Adam Zuehlke's clear vision for the film and his ability to communicate that vision to cast and crew. There are certain films that envelope you within their experience and, indeed, Evergreen is an immersive experience that leaves you feeling as if you've risen up from baptism as the closing credits roll.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic