By Don Simpson | April 24, 2013
Director: Terence Nance
Writer: Terence Nance
Starring: Terence Nance, Namik Minter, Alisa Becher, Jc Cain, Dexter Jones, Talibah Lateefah Newman, Chanelle Pearson
There is nothing overly simple about Terence Nance’s visualization of love and beauty; rather, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is a complex form of poetry that requires images and music to complete it. Using the rhythmic repetition of narration and dialogue, Nance lulls the audience into a deep meditative state. The hope, of course, is that the film will have the same transcendental effect on Nance’s love interest, Namik Minter.
While a film about a filmmaker making a film to convince a woman of their love for each other is not necessarily new territory, Nance’s cerebral take on the genre it quite unique. Cleverly utilizing a second-person perspective of narration, Nance places “you” in his situation; then replays key events over and over again, continuously deconstructing and reconstructing them, until “you” have most of the pertinent details.
A meta-narrative in the most heady sense of the term, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty deals with the collection of memories and perspectives in an effort to ascertain the truth. By omnipotently manipulating the editing and structure of the film, Nance transports “you” into his headspace and convinces “you” to believe his version of the truth. Nance instantly becomes “your” overly emotional best friend who gushes incessantly about the woman he loves. As cute and energetic as a puppy, Nance sees precisely which toy he wants to play with but he cannot understand why the answer is always “no.” I doubt he will listen to “your” reasoning right now, so it is best to just sit back and let him ramble on.
Other than allowing Minter to have a voice via intertwined footage of her unfinished short film, Subtext, “you” never quite get to know Minter’s side of the story. “You” can only guess that Nance is a bit too overbearing or overanxious (like that aforementioned puppy) for her tastes. Guess is the operative word there, since that is all “you” can do; because as much as Nance replays the footage, the answer is not anywhere to be found.
“You” have probably replayed “your” past relationships over and over again, like fading home movies in “your” head, doing a scene-by-scene analysis to determine the precise reason for the eventual break-up. That is what An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is — Nance’s attempt to discover the real reason that Minter is not interested in him. Of course “you” must realize that the footage in An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is not real, it has all been reconstructed for “your” viewing pleasure. It may not even be based upon real events. “You” may assume that it is, because Nance seems so honest and forthcoming, but maybe that is all just part of the magnificent poetry of this story.