Deep down, most actors dream of a role where they can throw subtlety to the wind and just freak out. Indeed, there’s something to be said for tapping into those uninhibited, raw emotions that we can rarely experience in real life. But while we may expect such over-the-top performances from a Nic Cage or a Jared Leto, few would count Oscar Isaac amongst the ranks of freak-out inclined thespians. That doesn’t mean, of course, that he hasn’t just been waiting for the right role. And now it seems the man behind the melancholy Llewyn Davis, the congenial Poe Dameron, and the cerebral Nathan Bateman, has finally found that opportunity to transform into a full-out raving lunatic in the role of Basil Stitt.
The short film Lightningface comes from the mind of director Brian Petsos, who had previously worked with Isaac on the 2014 short film Ticky Tacky. How a small-time comic actor with few directing credits to his name managed to recruit one of the hottest names in Hollywood for his short films is a mystery we won’t even attempt to solve, but it speaks volumes about Isaac’s humility and dedication to his craft. The actual story behind the 20-minute Lightningface appears to be willfully ambiguous, with a brief synopsis that mentions an inexplicable incident that leads Basil to lock himself into his apartment, which then leads to some profound transformation.
Your guess is as good as ours, but a 60-second trailer gives us a sense of how this all plays out: namely with Isaac screaming, shrieking, crying, foaming at the mouth, and destroying an apartment full of nice furniture. Along the way he puts a bag on his head and dumps Kristen Wiig via voicemail, all while a chipper classical piano score lends a hint of irony to the whole endeavor. Oh and there’s a monkey suit.
Shot in attractive widescreen with subtle, moody lighting, we can rest assured this isn’t just another film school short, and Lightningface will likely be making its way to some A-level festival or other before too long. Hopefully by then we’ll have a better idea of what this is all about.
UPDATE 7/28/2017: Lightningface was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick and is now available to watch online in its entirety. Enjoy!