In Jun & Me, writer and director Kendall Williams makes his debut by treating us to an introspective and mystical journey into the mind of the insomniac main character, Mark Everest (Giorgos Koutsakis). As a photographer living in Tokyo, Mark struggles to find meaning or purpose in his seemingly anemic daily routine. Without sleep, without joie de vivre, we can easily connect to Mark’s current rut where he yearns for fulfillment.
The cinematography throughout the film - also the work of Williams - reflects Mark’s state, a cold, minimalist, urban and frenetic environment, quite beautifully. And before we get too comfortable in the complacent world of Mark, he becomes intrigued by an offer from a fellow co-worker who notices his discomfort. Mark’s co-worker, Brad (Steven LeFever, also the film’s producer and assistant director), informs him of a medication called Gnosis that may assist Mark in finally getting a full night’s rest.
Upon taking the pill, Mark is launched into a well-rested, highly productive mode that quickly leads him on a mysterious adventure interlaced with where he discovers the elusive yet ardent Jun (Sara Ben-Abdallah), who rises above other women at a Venetian carnival-style party as his contemporary Aphrodite. Jun fills the void within Mark’s life through spontaneity, affection, and the thrill of new romance. Mark eagerly chronicles their gallivanting around Tokyo with his camera, capturing bliss in motion with his newfound love, only to discover a startling truth about Jun and himself in the end.
The film’s enchanting quality strokes the imagination with what is possibly missing from our own lives as well as our perception of joy. While there are moments within the dialogue that feel somewhat forced – and a complementary minimalist approach would have helped – the awkward tone and nature of the Jun & Me suggest an ever-present discomfort with the self, with or without pharmaceutical assistance.
While we get to see this 17-minute short play out profound subject matter in a limited window, we can certainly look forward to future evolved projects that will take the beauty and intensity of the filmmakers’ passions to the next, deserved level.
Check out the latest on Jun & Me and their appearances at upcoming film festivals: https://www.facebook.com/junandmefilm
Dispatches from an itinerant and irreverent artist.