Directed by Julia Noel/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
When watching a movie that you have no idea about what to expect, there are only two ways things can unwind. The first scenario is you challenging yourself to see how many times you can yawn before stopping the movie or falling asleep. The second scenario is as you presumed, the exact opposite. A scenario where the film captures you in the most surprising of ways where you didn’t expect anything and you got everything.
It doesn’t come as a plot twist that since I’m reviewing 13 Mysteries by Julia Noel, that the movie falls in the second turn of events. The reason I’m saying this isn’t to blow the film’s horn. Rather, it’s to understand when a movie that’s unknown to a person, wins over their heart. With 13 Mysteries, there are a couple of moments.
The first aspect that needs addressing about 13 Mysteries is the cost/quality ratio. For example, if you think you can’t create a convincing movie scene of a presidential debate full of twists and turns, this movie will make you a believer using nothing more than a generic room, a couple of good actors and a piece of paper (and some scotch tape). The movie manages to wrap you up in a whirlwind of confusion, quirkiness, and mystery while holding the tempo for a good hour and 45 minutes.
The film stacks questions that seemingly random, steadily build up. Another interesting aspect is that although the questions get asked, many of them don’t get answered, but thanks to the film’s momentum, the viewer will likely not even notice that. This shows how much a filmmaker can do with so little. To make a scene come alive, you don’t need a big budget or a unique location, all you need is creativity. And what’s the most impressive, as the title says, 13 Mysteries proves that not once, but 13 times.
With that being said, it’s fascinating how one mind can create such a plethora of simple, yet interesting characters, scenes and, well, mysteries. Almost every scene has a unique element that will make any filmmaker think “hey, why didn’t I think of that.” Mixed with the black-white scenery and 80s vibe, 13 Mysteries feels like early Luc Besson movies’ eccentric brother. Although the light-heartedness dominates throughout the film, the movie doesn’t take itself like that. Movie genres like comedy, although they are here to make you laugh, there’s a lot effort put into creating that one short moment of joy for the viewer.
To a large extent, the reason why 13 Mysteries work is due to its actors. The film takes place in a small town and the vast number of actors makes it feel as if the entire town is in the film.
From a local stranger spending his time walking the streets to the mayor running for another mandate – you get a feeling as if everyone’s in on the movie. Nevertheless, what would quantity be without quality?
The acting is on the point with the film’s overall tone. At first, some people might think the acting is somewhat amateurish, but as you go down the rabbit hole, you realize the acting is at the same time over-dramatic and dry or snappy and slow on purpose. I can imagine this type of acting failing in a different movie type, but for 13 Mysteries, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered. With that being said, it takes a lot of talent to envision what will and will not work for a movie yet to be made. The director, Julia Noel, could’ve taken countless different routes as she was preparing to create the film, but on every crossroad, it feels like she took the right turn.
Next time you start a random movie you don’t know what to expect, reward the artist with patience. You never know what you’ll get, same as I didn’t know with 13 Mysteries. In the end, the reward was a fantastic film that’s bursting with creativity, great acting, and a unique story that is all over the place, but it provides exactly what every movie should – art mixed with entertainment.