The intention was to stay true to the spirit of the original short fiction and maintain its stylistic tone, ambiguity, and sense of mystery. As in the fiction piece, the protagonist and first female lead have no names, the protagonist’s possible motivations are only suggested, the sparseness of the dialogue and narrative structure is maintained, and the ending provides no clear resolution.
At the same time, the cinematic medium presented opportunities to amplify the story and some of its elements. The pirouetting of the Estelle character in the short fiction/ script transforms into a dance in the film. With the soundtrack in that scene and the song playing later in the same scene flashbacked at the end, the dance scene adds altogether another dimension to the story and characters. The symbolism plays out well in the scene of the protagonist and the woman character at the bedroom window wall staring out at the view of the two buildings under construction. The lush Chinese painted screen in the living room scenes also adds a symbolic almost decadent sub-text.
The acting was performed in a naturalistic underplayed style called for by the story/ script. The non-verbal communication was emphasized in the performances and captured on screen. The slow pace and sometimes drawn-out sequences enhance the subtlety and stylistic tone, for example: Estelle walking unhurriedly to the window-wall and later to the other end of the room as the protagonist watches, the sound of her heels adding a melodic quality.
The music came from two songs and heightened the tension of the story as well as the poignancy and emotion below the surface. The main soundtrack came from the song “So Long Too Late” and captured the story’s mystery and ambiguity, and the protagonist’s disassociation and his effect on the two female characters. The soundtrack from “Goodbye My Love” captures the effervescence of the Estelle character and the lightness of the scene where she dances and poses for the protagonist’s camera. Later on the song itself was used at the end and the credits, and the lyrics were a perfect fit to the denouement.
Production Notes – “The condo location as character”
The condo location presented both unanticipated opportunities and challenges. The condo is depicted in the film almost as a character in itself. Everything about the look, feel and furnishings of the condo fit the script perfectly from a story perspective: the stark views of the landscape outside; the glass window where the reflection of the Estelle character shifts to a focus on the night skyline; the symbolism of the protagonist and the woman character at the bedroom window wall staring out at the two buildings under construction; the Chinese painted screen in the living room was a great touch; the pictures of the owner’s parents that were used as a prop in the movie along with the protagonist’s boyhood pictures.
At the same time, the bedroom glass windows while integral to the scene, also posed challenges when shooting the daytime bedroom scene because of the changing daylight due to weather changes during the shoot. Also, the frequent streetcar sounds resulted in interruptions during the shoot. While the streetcar line was close enough for passing streetcars to be to be heard, there was no clear view to allow shots of the streetcars to be used.