“Two Distant Strangers” will make you hold your breath – Peju Akande
(Two Distant Strangers, 32 minutes, Martin Desmond Roe, Joey Bad$$, Zaria Simone, Andrew Howard)
You don’t need to be black or American or male for that matter to feel the tension and trepidation in Two Distant Strangers. You need to be human, though, able to put yourself in another’s shoes, to emphathize, to feel the angst of the average black man living in America.
This is a movie that helps you understand why Black American families tell you they have ‘The Talk’ with their children; ‘the talk’ about how to handle or deal with White Police men without getting shot; the movie is abou that prevalent systemic racism and how not to die while black.
Two Distant Strangers is a short film, played by three main characters: Carter, Perri and Merk. This movie which took the Oscars for Best Short Film is a 32 minute long film brimming with anxious moments around a young black man, Carter, played by Joey Bad$$.
After a night with Perry, a new fling, played by Zaria Simone; Carter turns down her request to spend the rest of the day with her instead of going back to his pad. Carter chooses to head home to his dog instead only we never see him get home because he gets caught in a time loop. He is repeatedly stopped by a white Police man, Merk, played by Andrew Howard. Merk always finds a reason to arrest Carter with dire consequences.
That’s the entire story, if you’ve watched Tom Cruise’s 2014 movie – Edge of Tomorrow, where Tom Cruise continually returns to same battle; or if you’ve seen that teen film, Before I fall, where a teenage girl keeps waking up from sleep to relive the exact same day only with minor changes, then you’ll understand this short movie, Two Distant Strangers.
The scene where Carter is tackled to the ground by Merk whose knee is firmly planted on Carter’s neck triggers a tearful real life moment, especially when Carter begins to choke and call out, “I can’t breathe…I can’t breathe…”
George Floyd, anyone!
Think about Breonna Taylor, think about Trayvon Martin, think about all the unfortunate black victims of Police brutality, then you get the idea behind how difficult it can get just being black in America and all you want to do is pause your breathe.
That is essentially what this movie does to you; you are holding your breath as you watch Carter over and over again start his day without never getting home.
Make no mistake; regardless of where you find yourself, be you in Africa, America, Europe…you will find yourself questioning systemic racism and racial profiling, you will find yourself coming to some understanding as to why this movie is so timely particularly with the recent guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin, the white Minneapolis Police officer, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, thus choking him to death. George Floyd’s death sparked outrage not just in major American cities but worldwide as well.
Will you finally exhale at the end of the movie? Well, maybe you will when the names of victims of police racial profiling begin to scroll on the screen. Perhaps you tell yourself that someday soon, all of these dead victims will get justice.
Two Distant Strangers is currently streaming on Netflix