An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (NR)

Animation 84 May 17, 2013
By Ernest Hardy
A young man's film marred by some tedious narration, Terence Nance's gorgeous An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is more than saved by a wildly ambitious visual imagination. It teeters somewhere between film school precocity and impressively assured audaciousness, blending animation, freeze-frame stop-and-go effects, mockumentary, and inspired manipulation of light and color into an ocular feast. It's almost hypnotic in its style and genre promiscuity. Nance plays a version of himself as he maps the frustrating evolution of a friendship with his ideal woman (Namik Minter) into something more. A struggling student and artist with a Maxwell-esque 'fro, hip wardrobe, and small but charming apartment, Nance is a poster boy for New York 21st-century black bohemia. If there's a downside to Nance's facility with the visual, it's that in his determination to avoid racialized cliché, to stretch the expectations of black filmmakers, he steps hard into a more generic and color-blind trap: that of the first-time filmmaker who communicates every idea, theory, and aesthetic exercise he's ever conceived of, hurling them all with the ferocity of someone afraid they may never get another shot. (Which, given the grim data on the number of black filmmakers—especially men—who never make a sophomore film, is not an unfounded fear.) Here's hoping he can avoid that fate because if he can write or attach himself to a script that is as risky and unconventional in its story as he is in his craftsmanship skills, he'll be a powerhouse filmmaker.
Terence Nance Terence Nance, Chanelle Pearson, Talibah Lateefah Newman, Dexter Jones, Namik Minter, Alisa Becher, Jc Cain Terence Nance Jay-Z, Wyatt Cenac, Dream Hampton Variance Films

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