The short film Dániel recently received its World Premiere at the Palm Springs Film Festival and will be screening at festivals over the coming months. It follows the eponymous Dániel (Balázs Csémy) a Hungarian living in the UK who is paying for his studies by working as a male prostitute for both men and women.
He is invited for lunch by his friend Nori (Hilda Péter), who introduces him to her new boyfriend Tom (Henry Garrett). They seem to be getting along well, chatting about their lives and experiences, but Tom may be hiding something he wants to tell Dániel while Nori isn’t around.
Dániel is beautifully filmed and constructed but it’s difficult not to feel at the end that it hasn’t delved very far into its subjects’ lives. It is put together in a way where it feels that instead of being contrived into a traditional story we are being presented vignettes of peoples’ lives, almost documentary-style.
There’s a sense that these are interesting people who it would be fascinating to learn more about, but in its 14-minutes there’s a sense that we’ve only been given the chance to skim over the surface. The short pivoting around a scene towards the end and the judgements people make, which doesn’t illuminate things as much as it seems to think it does, and nor does the idea that a male prostitute may just be normal, rather middle-class person. There are hints about the meaning of the service that Dániel provides to the lonely and those in need of the intimacy, but it doesn’t go that far with it.
What it does present is good and there’s never a point where it becomes dull or feels like it’s trying too hard, but even with only 14 minutes to play with, it never feels like we get all that far with Dániel and his life. It’s a shame, as there are the ingredients here for something that could have been more than it is, and perhaps if it had a little more time to play with it could have fully revealed it.
Overall Verdict: Beautifully made but perhaps not as ambitious as it might have been. Dániel feels like it’s making a couple of simple points well, but beyond that there isn’t a huge amount to it.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac