By midlandsmovies, Aug 12 2018 07:50AM
Midlands Review - God’s Lonely Man
Directed by Waheed Iqbal (2018)
God’s Lonely Man is a 25-minute short film written and directed by Waheed Iqbal, starring Faraz Beg and Nina Johnston. It’s about faith, isolation and the internal struggle to choose the right path and resist evil.
Beg plays Noman, a young Muslim man in Birmingham who is isolated and disconnected from his peers. He faces the external pressures of racism and islamophobia while battling his own conscience and second-guessing his decision to be a righteous man given certain actions taken in his past. He’s confronted by The Whisperer, played by Nina Johnston, as she attempts to lead him astray by appealing to his ‘true’ nature. When push comes to shove and it’s time to make a moral decision, will he choose wisely?
I’m not sure what I expected going in, but God’s Lonely Man is certainly slower and more abstract than I was prepared for. There are long scenes of Noman walking alone in the dark, and a few scenes that are a blur of colours and shapes. It’s very dark visually, which may have been a conscious decision on the director’s part but does make it a bit hard to make out what’s happening at times. When the image is clear, though, some of the shots are superb – Noman framed against the window, the deadly closeups of the hammer, the fresh bright blood on the poor assaulted woman’s face as she stands under a streetlamp.
The use of colour is excellent, with the dark red light of desire and violence cropping up again and again. Iqbal knows how to use sound effectively too, accentuating the action on screen well and distorting it occasionally to help the blurry visuals disorient the audience. The music is a bit of a low point, sadly, as it’s often over the top and inappropriately dramatic.
I think more could have been made of the relationship between Noman and his peers (we have one scene where they ridicule him, but the moment is brief despite the scene being long) as it would have been interesting to explore that aspect of his struggle and its effect on his inner turmoil, especially given how the climax goes.
It’s unclear who he’s calling on the phone - symbolically, perhaps he is calling the good man he hopes to find within himself? It’s also a little unclear what actions he took in his past that makes him believe he is a bad man – because of the red light’s usage to symbolise desire in a previous scene, the violent red-lit scene in the shop could be an unfulfilled desire rather than an actual action he took. It would have been nice to have explored his past a little more, but that’s more of a personal preference here!
However, Beg gives a good performance as a conflicted loner, with his emotive expressions being the high point. His delivery is a little flat, but that matches the character as he’s overwhelmed by his choice and the lonely life he’s leading. Johnston is superb as his foil, all smiles and delicious glee as she pours poison in his ear to try and lead him astray. The scenes they share are among the best in the film, as is the climax itself. These are the moments the film shines.
All in all though, God's Lonely Man is a great short on a topic that seems to be rarely discussed, and it’s well worth checking out.