Her­man By Trade

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Her­man’s hum­drum, soli­tary life as a bigc­ity street-cleaner in­cludes one se­cret: he has the abil­ity to com­pletely trans­form his ap­pear­ance and, as “Bruce,” he strides out into the city streets at night. What for is un­clear, but peo­ple shrink from him and dogs bark at him as he passes. He also keeps up a run­ning nar­ra­tion on what he is do­ing, re­in­forc­ing the ar­ti­fi­cial­ity. One night Bruce is there when enig­matic film au­teur Mio is­sues a cast­ing call for per­form­ers for her new film.

The queues are end­less and the au­di­tions go on for days; Her­man’s job, the rest of his life and the city’s ac­tiv­i­ties (seen as pass­ing tableaus) all fall by the way­side. He even­tu­ally wins a part in the film but the out­come is not what any­one ex­pected.

Chris W. Kim’s elu­sive, thought-pro­vok­ing story of­fers no easy an­swers, or even clearcut ques­tions. His ethe­real, scritchy-scratchy art leaves char­ac­ters am­bigu­ous. Her­man’s abil­ity is un­set­tling, as is his ea­ger­ness to sac­ri­fice all to his am­bi­tion, but is he to blame or is he a vic­tim of a hol­low film in­dus­try that sup­plants tal­ent with “il­lu­sions” and squan­ders the most mag­i­cal of abil­i­ties? As art clashes with re­al­ity, iden­tity with il­lu­sion, cre­ative ex­pres­sion with cre­ative con­trol, we’re left to make the moral choices that no-one in the story is will­ing to face. Alex Sum­mersby

A kind of art meets a kind of life, head-on.

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