The Faceless Man is an award winning short film starring William O’Leary, who you may recognise from the 90s Tim Allen sitcom Home Improvement, and directed by Jeremy Foley, with a screenplay by Sara O’Reilly and Foley.
O’Leary is The Faceless Man, a seemingly less than average schlub whose wife wants him to get out of bed, clean the house and pick up her prescription while she’s out earning a living. When he drags himself out from under the bed sheets he’s horrified to find a perfectly oval mirror where his face should be. Forcing himself to go outside, he finds that people are hypnotised by his reflective visage, and find themselves facing their darkest, saddest secrets.
It’s an intriguing idea that one could imagine emerging from the brain of Charlie Kaufman, or as a particularly thoughtful episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s also one that’s open to interpretation. Perhaps the film is about the general emptiness of people who quietly digest whatever the media tells them, barely noticing the people around them, or bothering to look deeply within themselves. Whatever. The film is fun, engaging, and manages to stay safely on the right side of being pretentious, despite it’s enigmatic, introspective premise.
High praise must go to O’Leary, as The Faceless Man, for conveying mounting fear and confusion, followed by realisation and personal growth, all without the use of his actual face. It’s a masterful piece of acting that must have been both uncomfortable and challenging.
Speaking of challenging, one must also be impressed by the sheer technical accomplishment on show. To have the lead actor wearing a mirror on his face throughout must have posed a few difficulties to say the least! One almost feels that director Foley and cinematographer Will Myers have pulled off a magic trick. Aside from managing to avoid showing the crew and equipment (which is an achievement in itself), the mirror is used to create a number of fun effects. At one point The Faceless Man looks into his bathroom mirror and is reflected back into himself to an infinite point.
Brilliant trickery off to one side, The Faceless Man is a slick, professional looking production, with a fine central performance and an unusual, thought-provoking central conceit.
The Faceless Man will be playing at the Sherman Oakes Film Festival on Sunday November 19th at 12pm, at the Holly Shorts Monthly Screening series at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood on Thursday November 30th. Then in early December it will showing at the San Jose International Short International Short Film Festival. So if your in and around California why not take the time to check it out.