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The Independent Critic

Bryna Weiss, Jeffrey Carl, Michael Lake, Kristian Mitsku, David Richard, Jessica D'Angelo
John Babu
27 Mins.

 Movie Review: Optillus 
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Writer/director John Babu's 27-minute short film Optillus is a compelling short film for the thinkers in the crowd. The Canadian short centers around recent grad Ailia Perls (Bryna Weiss), whose pioneering work on Optical Illusions probes into the unconscious of her subjects to help the police solve cases. It's an extraordinary process, ambiguous yet precise, that helps her navigate psyches and, in essence, "read" minds. 

Of course, as one might expect, there's always a backstory and the same is true here. When her past and present threaten to collide, Ailia is forced to go ever deeper into the depths of the most difficult mind she can ever explore - her own. 

For anyone familiar with Babu's background, such a thoughtful and compelling film is no surprise. Always a lover of film, Babu possesses a masters degree in molecular biology. Wonderfully weaving together science and creativity, Babu has crafted a story that both engages and immerses. The script itself is remarkably disciplined, an approach indicative of someone used to a scientific approach and that approach shines throughout Optillus. He takes what could easily be a difficult concept and not only makes it accessible but humanizes it. 

While the film has a strong ensemble cast, there's little doubt that its success depends upon Bryna Weiss's ability to make Ailia convincing as both a pioneering genius and a vulnerable human being. Fortunately, Weiss delivers in abundance. She draws us in and holds on to us. 

Other key supporting players include Michael Lake as Det. Bob, Jeffrey Carl as Suspect, and David Richard as Sgt. Manner among others. Truly, this is a solid ensemble clearly engaged with Babu's meaty material. 

Optillus is for sure a low-budget indie and there are times that it shows. However, Babu accomplishes quite the impact here and really emphasizes story over any sense of razzle-dazzle. Lensing by Arsen Ourmouzov is effective throughout and Jordan Koziej's original score for the film sets a strong atmosphere. 

A film that stimulates both intellectually and emotionally, Optillus is ideal for the indie fest circuit and for microcinema screening options. There are few films like this on the circuit and for those who like to chew on bigger concepts having both an intimate and universal impact this is a film to check out. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic