It is no doubt that Chance the Rapper or Chancelor Bennett is a man of great talent with the ability to get us all dancing, but also thinking through his lyricism and melodies. Though some of his music focuses on life’s darker side, his bops are nothing compared to Mr. Happy. Despite its title, Colin Tilley’s VICE short film starring Chance The Rapper, follows Victor, a depressed young man who is looking for a way out. Victor wants to escape his job at the local Supply Guyz, the thoughts he has of his ex who has clearly moved on, and the mundanity of his everyday melancholia. Killing himself sounds like the best solution, but even after multiple attempts Victor just can’t bring himself to do it. He finds a site, Mr. Happy, a service that takes care of the actual doing and provides a painless solution to what Victor wants most, an end. Tilley’s short film brings some of life’s hardest questions into consideration as well as the connection between life, love, happiness, sadness, and death. This film evokes emotion through its lighting, sound, camera motion, and other techniques.
The film begins with Victor attempting suicide. The tone of the scene is very somber. The lighting indicates that it is nighttime, as it is very dark in the apartment and only certain things are illuminated. The type of lighting used here is rembrandt, as only Victor and a few other objects are illuminated, leaving the rest of the shot dark. The scene then cuts to another shot, where Victor is at work. This is an establishing shot, showing the audience Victor’s monotonous daily life. It is also a two shot, as it contains Victor and his drug loving coworker. This film is shot in 2:35:1 ratio, or the Panasonic 35 format.
The next few scenes depict an extremely troubled Victor within his own apartment. Rembrandt lighting is again used in these scenes. Victor sits with his head in his hands and an attached shadow is reflected. These scenes feature slow falloff, as there is a gradual rather than sharp change between light and shadows. These scenes are undersaturated, with a greater amount of white, grey and black in the hue. This contributes to the hopeless mood of the scenes. The only time there is an influx of color is when Victor finds the Mr. Happy.com website, which is ironic because this is a site that assists people in committing suicide for a price, however in Victor’s mind he has found the solution so I found the colorful flashes to represent this.
The following scenes depict Victor at work, still undersaturated and dark. His coworker’s voice is even blurred out to a dull, low unidentifiable noise to represent the pointless chatter that encompasses Victor’s life. However, when a female artist comes into his work the lighting of the scene immediately brightens. This is representative of the happiness that she eventually will bring to Victor.
This happiness is depicted in later scenes that take place outdoors with flat lighting. The sound throughout the movie is dialogue, as well as music. Both are featured in this scene and these sounds provide the audience with a much more warm and happy mood. One of the last scenes is also one of a very happy and hopeful mood. This scene’s lighting indicates that it is daytime and the lighting style used is flat lighting again. This scene is shot close up as Victor is driving and his new romantic interest, also a symbol of hope, sits in the passenger seat. The shots cut between her face and his and then shows the both of them in a two shot. The sound in this scene which is music, sets the mood as an uplifting ones, in contrast to the earlier scenes, painting Victor in a much more optimistic light.
The cinematographic effects that I found the most contributive to this piece were that of the lighting and sound. The lighting truly set the mood and tone of the scenes, the darkest scenes being at night using rembrandt and chiaroscuro lighting; with their lack of light portraying the feelings of depression, loneliness and emptiness, while the happier scenes use daytime, flat lighting. Sounds also contribute to the feel of the scenes with different types of music depending on the mood, as well as dialogue. These techniques each contribute to film in their own way, all coming together in a smooth, effortless appearance to provide an audience with the specific mood and tone intended for the film.