Directed by Kurt Kuenne, United States, 2006, 16 minutes
Validation is a short film that follows Hugh Newman, a parking assistant in charge of validating parking tickets, and his quest to get Victoria, a DMV photographer, to smile. The films starts out with a depressed driver walking to the validation stand with his ticket, as he arrived Hugh Newman begins to complement the driver and ends up making him smile. Soon everyone from George Bush to Saddam Hussein is smiling because of Hugh Newman’s ability to make people smile. However, when Hugh goes to the DMV to get his drivers license renewed, he runs into Victoria who simply won’t smile. This sets Hugh off on a quest to get Victoria to smile and this short follows the adventure that eventually changes Hugh and Victoria.
I stumbled across this film while searching for short films and fell in love with it very quickly due to its ability to blend the unbelievable with the believable. For instance this ability shows up in the beginning of the film as Hugh begins to talk to his first client about how amazing he is. I thought at first that Hugh was making fun of the man because of the way he expressed his complements however he was being completely serious. Then there are other details that stand out as unbelievable but yet the director is able to make them believable. One example of this is where the validation stand is located, it appears to be in a living room with a fireplace on the right. If you also looked at the DMV photo room, there are chandeliers and it appears to be filmed in a large ballroom. However, throughout the entire short, you never second-guess the fact that some of these things don’t add up or that some of them are simply ridiculous. While some people will claim that the film works hard to suspend belief from the beginning through crazy musical routines and just the insanity of it, all films must contain some believability. Without this believability, people won’t sincerely look at the video and will loose interest in it quickly. By perfecting this balance between the believable and unbelievable, Kurt Kuenne creates a unique and compelling story even if some elements don’t come close to lining up.
This ability to mix the believable and unbelievable is something that if mastered and correctly applied to a film adds a comedic and fun experience that cannot easily be obtained through other means. However, as a post production fanatic, I find it odd that in production or post production the chandeliers in the DMV photo room were not removed or covered up. While it may not bother most people, as a man who loves post production, keeping these elements in the film seems sloppy. However, this isn’t a issue to really get upset about, the film is a masterpiece that I truly enjoyed.