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Categories: Movie Reviews

Cameron Johnson reviews Paul Herbert’s idiosyncratic inter-dimensional short “The Flight of Iro and Casper”.

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The Flight of Iro and Casper is a quirky sci-fi short written, directed and produced by Paul Herbert and edited by a previous Jammer of the Month of ours, C.J. Lazaretti. A mind-bending adventure through two alternate dimensions and many layers of emotion, The Flight of Iro and Casper is an often strange and ridiculous half an hour of cinema, but it’s well put-together – especially for a low-budget crowdfunded short – and a whole lot of fun.

Liam Nooney stars as Casper, a good-hearted but unlucky officer worker who comes across a strange mirror on the way home from being stood up by a date. In this mirror he doesn’t see a reflection of himself; rather, he sees a mysterious girl (Dimitra Barla) who, despite looking nothing like Casper, mirrors his every move and says everything he does. This strange encounter sends Casper into a bit of a nervous spiral, after which one of his work colleagues (Leah Lawry-Johns) refers him to a physicist, Dr. Luoma (Karina Knapinska), who has been studying multiple cases of these “girls in the mirror”.

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Casper soon learns that this mysterious girl is in fact a sort of version of himself from an alternate dimension; the two are, supposedly, different end results of the same fertilized egg. Dr. Luoma then reveals to Casper a way in which he can communicate with the mirror girl through a device called the “desynchronizzer” (“with two z’s” – it’s a black box with a button on it), and he goes to an eccentric pawn shop to buy one. After the shopkeeper (John Gannon) notices the passionate look in Casper’s eye – he has fallen in love with the girl in the mirror – he agrees to give him the last “desynchronizzer” in existence so that the two lovebirds can unite.

Once Casper and this girl, revealed as Iro, finally do communicate, Casper is transported to Iro’s dimension, after which many existential paradoxes are revealed that threaten to put both Iro and Casper in danger. Casper meets the other dimension’s response to Dr. Luoma, Dr. Higgins (Tom Sykes), and finds that being in the same reality as his “other self” causes problems that would make any relationship between the two impossible.

All this wibbly-wobbly inter-dimensional malarky might seem hard to decipher to a passing viewer, and it sometimes can be; I think it took a couple viewings to fully process all of the far-out science and other oddball twists that I will leave out to avoid major spoilers. Despite this, the film is actually centered on a concept that’s been explored before, notably in the 1969 science-fiction film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun on which The Flight of Iro and Casper is based.

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“Yes, the idea came from…Journey to the Far Side of the Sun,” director Paul Herbert informed me, “it’s about a group of astronauts who fly to a planet on the other side of the sun where they are intercepted by beings, taken to a place and eventually confronted by their counter-selves, and the only way they can see this world from earth is through a mirror.”

More important than the influence, though, is what these “counter-selves” say about the film’s characters. What is significant about Casper falling in love with a female version of himself? According to Herbert, “his love of her is mostly narcissistic,” and allows him to “compensate for his self-loathing and inadequacies.” In getting across this theme, I think the film does a pretty good job; I was definitely thinking along the lines of narcissism in dream sequences where Casper fantasizes of kissing Iro. Sometimes the characters explain the science and meaning behind in terms that are a bit too black-and-white, and would’ve been better shown instead of told, but for the most part of the energy of the film keeps us interested.

And from a purely technical standpoint, The Flight of Iro and Casper is quite impressive. Though the music might seem a bit overbearing and unnecessarily cinematic in some scenes, it certainly fits with the film’s gleeful quirkiness, which is matched only by the amount of fun the actors seem to be having in playing their roles. The cinematography is also sound, with the black-and-white sequences seeming especially urgent and suspenseful.

The Flight of Iro and Casper is a fun film, and while it might at times feel a bit too eccentric or over-the-top to some audiences, it’s certainly trying something we don’t see all that often in independent film. Check it out.

For more news about The Flight of Iro and Casper, head to the film’s website and Facebook page

Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson is a writer and filmmaker born in England, based in Michigan, USA, and currently living in Enniscrone, Ireland. He writes about all things entertainment with a speciality in film criticism. He has been working on films ever since middle school, when his shorts "Moving Stateside" and "The Random News" competed in the West Branch Children's Film Festival. Since then he's written and directed a number of his own films and worked in many different crew jobs. Follow him on Twitter @GambasUK and look at his daily film diary at letterboxd.com/gambasUK.

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Posted on Oct 5, 2015

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