Rachel Brosnahan in Basically

Why Watch? Early on in this short film from Ari Aster, the young actress played by Rachel Brosnahan warns us to keep an open mind about her. The red flag proves to be half useful as she pontificates at great length about her vapid little life while surrounded by the wealth of its trappings. Here she is by the pool, here she is dancing in the house’s party room, here she is wearing a fifth designer outfit. Fortunately, as she reveals more of herself, the layers peel back to show she’s human after all — flawed in more ways than the obvious.

This short works because the patience of the writing allows for a fuller figure to emerge, and because Brosnahan (House of Cards) is able to maintain attention long enough for an interesting reality to break through the beautiful spell. She magnetizes here with sneering pleasantness.

Plus, the style of detachment from excess makes everything feel like a confession just before escape. The actress speaks directly to us, half-in and half-out of her world like a fourth wall was never built for this story. Aster uses that disengagement to place Brosnahan’s character into ironically funny situations like speaking blithely about dating while receiving oral on the beach or blowing smoke out a window as the maid cleans. Things move around and engage with her, but she’s still in her own world, and we (like the invisible journalist) are lucky to see it.

What Will It Cost? About 14 minutes.

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