Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Online Cinema

Short Film: I Heart Staten Island

By Mike Everleth ⋅ November 7, 2013

Does anybody really love Staten Island? New York City’s geographically disconnected borough is the setting for Jef Taylor‘s mesmerizing short film I Heart Staten Island. To say much more before viewing this mysterious little short would do it a major disservice. So watch, then, if you want, continue reading below.

Filmmaker Taylor has evidenced a strong visual naturalism in some terrific shorts such as Coverage and After You Left that he continues to utilize in I Heart Staten Island. Visually, through the gorgeous work of cinematographer Ryan Dickie here, that style leads the viewer on in a seductive, “everything is going to be all right” kind of way while his films places characters in situations that are anything that are “all right.” In that regard, Taylor’s films are very much disconcerting to watch, but as a pleasant, entertaining experience.

I Heart Staten Island is Taylor’s most abstract, surreal work even while it still sticks to a tight narrative, albeit elliptical, structure. While specific motivations and relationships for the characters go unexplored, their actions are clearly a heightened, absurdist elevation of jealous rivalries that can occur within the acting profession. Or really, any profession, so that the film’s plot has a universal relevance even when Taylor and co-screenwriter Alexander Jorgensen keep the explanations at bay.

A man stares at giant female cat costume on a New York City street