Combustible Celluloid
With: Brittany S. Hall, Will Brill, Gail Bean, Drew Fuller, Ben Levin
Written by: Shatara Michelle Ford
Directed by: Shatara Michelle Ford
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 82
Date: 02/26/2021

Test Pattern (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Interracial Recognition

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Shatara Michelle Ford, Test Pattern is a simple, yet smart deconstruction of racial and gender structures, centered on an interracial couple. It begins with their meeting, in a bar. Lean, hangdog tattoo artist Evan (Will Brill) shyly asks beautiful Renesha (Brittany S. Hall) to dance, then for her number. He's very polite, and she's taken with him, and we see them in love, sharing breakfast, etc. Renesha gets her dream job at an animal shelter, and she goes out with her friend Amber (Gail Bean) to celebrate, a girl's night out. They meet a couple of slimy white guys, drinks and drugs are plied, and after awhile, Renesha finds herself groggily lying on a bed with one of the guys on top of her.

The next day, Evan seems to take the news calmly, but suggests that they go to a hospital to get a rape kit. This turns into an all-day ordeal, as the couple is turned away at hospital after hospital. This situation could be read as racism, or it could be simple hospital bureaucracy, but Evan becomes increasingly obsessed. It becomes more about him than about her. The movie wraps up appropriately messily, as Renesha is clearly dealing with a myriad of emotions, her new role as a victim, and her future relationship with a white man. (Her various hairstyles also play an important part.) This is a powerful, yet quiet work, filled with excellent performances. It's available through various virtual cinemas, including the Roxie.

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