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SXSW 2020: “Basic” Short Film Review

What comes to mind when you think “basic”? Is there a certain person you think of? Don’t lie. I think from now on, when I think of that word, this hilarious short is what will come to mind first.

Writer, director and star Chelsea Devantez has crafted an amazingly simple narrative with “Basic,” which is literally only four minutes long. It also stars Georgia Mischak as the “basic bitch” in question, and Nelson Franklin as her boyfriend, who is happily working out with her before they go buy pineapples together with huge smiles on their faces.

The short opens with a voice-over saying, “Do you think I’m pretty? Because I’m trying my hardest” as it pans over an image of a young blonde woman smiling and skipping her way down a city sidewalk in a flowing maxi dress. If you’ve ever seen a single Instagram account, you know exactly what to picture here. Well, it turns out that the blonde is not our protagonist; no, that would be the brunette sitting up in bed and scrolling hatefully through her Instagram, mocking every last thing she chooses to share with her followers (and the public, I assume — could she be an influencer?).

From a filmmaking standpoint, this is executed pretty flawlessly. Sure, most of what you’re seeing is either a phone screen or Devantez staring down at said phone screen, but there were definitely some logistical aspects of the lighting that had to be just right to make this one work. You’ll appreciate it once you see it.

“Basic” probably doesn’t end how you’d expect it to, but I highly suggest you go watch it while it’s still on Amazon Prime. And I hope that it will be available elsewhere afterward, because it’s a wonderfully funny short. Any woman who has ever had Instagram envy could relate — and possibly men, too. Just keep in mind that people choose to share the best version of themselves online, not the truest version. And, of course, the grass is always greener on the other side. I’ll likely never forget that now, thanks to Devantez’s short film.

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