Reviewed by Tonny Majumder | Directed by James Thomas Snyder
This James Snyder directed film, “Customer Service” deals with the feeling of solitary confinement and humanity. How John, a simple guy, working in ‘Sea Customer Service’ is quarantined and is kind of frustrated with his job. He wants to visit outside, and finish his task but cannot. The Pandemic affected each one of us in different ways. The one thing that is most common in people is the feeling of solitary confinement. Humans are social animals, they feel secure and positive, living in a society. When they are forced to stay alone in a room, they are bound to feel depressed and stuck. It’s also the effect that John was having until a phone call.
A call from a faraway land changed the whole promenade of his life. The Director did an incredible job by confining most of the film inside one small frame. The audience can’t be free as the protagonist himself, is not free himself. He is stuck in that chair; inside his little room. He is a victim of the boredom of life. The sense of the audience’s freedom is played aptly. In the initial scene, just when John expresses that he is almost done with his job for the day and about to move out of the frame and probably show a new scene, the phone call made him stuck AGAIN. And voila! You are jailed again…
James was successful in conveying his message of humanity as well. His computer screen showed that the last call was from a person named, Haiyan Yang, who was apparently in Wuhan, China. In contemporary circumstances, not everyone is happy with China because of obvious reasons. Moreover, she called at a crucial moment when this guy was about to be free. He could not pick up the call, or even talk rudely to her. However, he did not and spoke nicely. It showed the philosophy of treating others nicely and smartly. Without giving any spoilers, it can be said that the last conversation between them made the said philosophy stronger.
As per the acting, James played the protagonist himself, and it was pretty good. His acting got even better at the end when he reached the seashore. The audience can see the joy and the sense of freedom in his every movement. His rushing to the waves was therapeutic to watch. As if each wave took all his depression, loneliness, and boredom one by one. It was liberating. He as the Yang also was brilliant in voice acting and voice modulation. The audience can’t see her ever, but the way she spoke is so compelling and it churns our hearts.
The writing is beautiful. The way the whole conversation changes its tone from strangers; to co-sympathizers and finally into a romantic one, is particularly enchanting. If not written correctly, the whole concept could sound preachy and tacky. It is just because of his way of telling the story, the whole film felt so smooth and serene. Guy Pearce once said, “ “I feel I do my best work when it’s all there on the page, and I feel that the character is very vivid as I read the script and I’m not having to create stuff and trying to cobble together something.” James must credit himself for being this amazing film screenplay writer.
Overall, this film is like ice cream on a sad day- calm, serene, and just makes you feel good. It’s amazing how James Snyder, though being an independent director, pulled off such beautiful concept and justified it on-screen.