This award-winning short film by director Michael Tyburski steals glimpses into the life of Peter (Joel Nagle), a house turner in New York who offers a unique form of spatial therapy, and a small cast of his clients. An apparent sound aficionado, Peter analyzes the harmony of notes that certain appliances, electricity, and proximity to traffic give off.
The film’s overall feel is wistful, often allowing the audience only snippets of conversation bookended by shots of studio apartments. What is most interesting is that, despite living in New York City, Peter is almost always alone in the shot. On his way to work, Tyburski films Peter walking across a completely empty square from the top of a nearby roof, allowing us to view him as we would a lone fish in a fishbowl. Later, audiences see Peter sitting in a chair, staring blankly off into the distance as his client, whose head remains out of frame, drones on about interior decorating.
Despite it being one of the only face-to-face conversations in the film, both character’s complete disconnect with each other adds to the overall feeling of isolation.
What captivated audiences was the interaction between Peter and Ellen (Kathleen Wise), a client who seeks him out to fix her depressing kitchen. Although she seems timid and skeptical, she leaves a trailing voice mail thanking Peter, which Tyburski overlays on top of an apathetic Peter coming home from a job and cleaning his pristine apartment. The way he pauses his seemingly unceasing routine to look at the machine left some viewers smiling as though they were witnessing a romance blossoming. However “Palimpsest” is by no means a love story. It is a story of disconnection, and it leaves the audience piecing together bits in the hope of building an ending that doesn’t leave them wanting.