The end of the world is a lonely proposition in Lluís Quílez’s grim 30-minute short Graffiti, about a single survivor in a post-apocalyptic city who wanders around the shell of an empty apartment complex with his dog in search of food, people, anything.
Edgar (Oriol Pla, “Year of Grace”) doesn’t have a lot to live for other than hope, so when he returns from a routine excursion to find the name “Anna” added to a graffitied wall in his makeshift shelter, he suddenly has reason to believe he’s not alone.
This gives Edgar renewed hope and meaning and leads to a sort of conversation where he writes a question and the mysterious Anna adds a response during one of Edgar’s runs. This goes on for quite a while until Edgar finally broaches the subject of a potential meeting.
It’s a novel spin on a love story, in some ways, developing a relationship without the pair meeting and leaving us (and Edgar) in the dark about who Anna even is and whether her responses are honest or not.
At the same time, their back-and-forth communication stretches on long enough that it ceases to make much sense. Anna claims to be ill, but obviously she makes the trek to Edgar’s living space everyday just to write on his wall, so how sick can she be? And despite walking around the same area for a while everyday, Edgar never so much as catches a glimpse of this Anna person.
When you factor in the ending, it’s clear that Quílez, who also co-wrote the script with Javier Gullón, is more interested in exploring how hope drives survival than in charting sensible character actions and motivations. That’s a fair choice, especially considering an end-of-the-world scenario allows for some questionable decision making and therefore further suspension of disbelief.
But Quílez still has nothing particularly insightful to say about hope, only that lonely people crave companionship and such cravings are amplified in extreme circumstances.
The greatest strengths of Graffiti are in the production design and the overall depiction of a dead world. It’s visually intriguing and the lack of explanation adds a layer of enigmatic allure. We don’t need to know why the world ended, only that it has and some people have survived. Graffiti is ultimately far from original, but it’s a decent glimpse of a lonely future where the possibility of meeting an unfamiliar face is the best we can hope for.