Iridescence is a short film about Logan (Jhomar Suyom), a 16-year-old boy, living with an abusive father, Vince (Andrew Nadanyi). Director Max Beauchamp packs a complete narrative arc into eight tense minutes of dance, ably choreographed by Danielle Gardner and with artsy editing by Duy N. Bui. The result is raw, trauma and redemption. It’s not subtle, but it is powerful.
Fewer social issues have gone from unthinkable to widely accepted as quickly as homosexual relations. Still, homophobia and bigotry continue to drip their insidious poison. The film begins with Mother, Father, Son, and a trinity of familial bliss, until Vince explodes in rage, the music swells, and the mother, Shelby (Lara Amelie Abadir) is thrown to the floor.
Confusingly, it seems as if Vince has killed her, but as that doesn’t connect with the rest of the story, we can assume that this attack reflects Logan’s emotions. His mother gone, the teen is trapped with the brooding Vince, a prisoner of toxic masculinity. Vince takes a tattoo-gun to Logan, branding his son’s flesh with “unnatural”, “soft”, and “worthless”. The tattoo-gun is an effective symbol of terror. Some viewers might be reminded of Kafka’s short story The Penal Colony, where prisoners have their crimes tattooed deeper and deeper into their skin, until death.
Vince’s expression, as he forcefully pins his son down and goes to work with the tattoo-gun, inscribes itself in the viewer’s mind. This unhinged patriarch makes for a memorable villain; his hate a constant, domineering force. Later, we are shown a moment from Vince’s past, how he too suffered when young, branded with a tattoo that is a shorthand for violence.
This isn’t a subtle film. Everything is laid out for us; in case you weren’t sure of Logan’s sexuality there is a scene where he caresses another boy. To show that Logan misses his mother, the boy carries a locket with a picture from a happier time. We know that Vince’s abuse is part of a pattern because this is spelled out in ink. The tattoo gun is a powerful image, but it isn’t surprising. There have been plenty of PSA commercials where teens are covered in sticky-notes or slapped in the face with flying words. Words hurt, labels are for apples, not people.
If this was longer, it might be heavy-handed, but because it is such a short film, it works. And the execution is excellent. The choreography is engaging and the visuals impressive. It’s certainly worth the next 10 minutes of your time – eight to watch the movie and two more to reflect on what you just saw.