Silvertone is a musical duo whose last record has become a hit. They're at a high point in their trajectory, but the pressure is also on Anna and Dan to follow up their success with a new album. Feeling like their latest effort is lacking, the pair are sent to a luxurious but remote house to write something special.
But things have changed for the group with success, and their connection seems more fragile and fraught than ever. Somehow, they must re-connect -- with themselves, with their music and with each other -- to capture the magic that made their music so singular before.
Written and directed by Kerris Dorsey, who also co-stars as one half of the fictitious pop group that gives the film its name, this short drama offers a crystalline, delicate snapshot of two musical artists. Once in sync creatively and personally, the pair now seem frustrated with one another. Their efforts to capture "lightning in a bottle" make up this dreamy yet grounded study of the creative process, personal connection and the fleeting magic of music as it expresses emotions that are too fragile to come to the surface yet.
Shot with a gentle, melancholic naturalism, with moody and muted light and a delicate touch in the visuals and rhythm, the narrative sets up a premise between two characters. Dan is impatient and something of an overthinker; Anna is intuitive but sometimes remote, and likely losing her patience with her co-creator. Their dialogue together reflects these differences, particularly in the craft of writing songs.
Dan attacks it like an assignment, but it seems to suck the joy out of music for Anna. In an attempt to lighten things up, Anna sets up a game where they write joke songs, making for a charming music interlude. But even their momentary relief from the burden of hit-making falls apart, and the pair hash out their differences. Dorsey and her co-lead actor Logan Miller have a nice back-and-forth that's both spiky and sweet as the moment requires, with an underlying tension. Even as they land on the melody and chorus that seems full of promise, their differences seem sharper than ever.
There's something graceful yet steely in Dorsey's performance as Anna, a combination of qualities that infuse "Silvertone" with a captivating, beguiling atmosphere. With such a focused, narrow narrative scope, the film could seem slight upon the first watch. But the writing, performances and lovely music hint there's something at work under the surface. Anna and Dan have different approaches to the enterprise of making music, and while those differences seemed to complement one another before, there are hints that they may widen into a gulf. It makes the final song and its visual rendition in the film all the more poignant, as the duo sings together but in their own separate spaces in split-screen, harmonizing poignantly about holding funerals for everything.