The Fresher is a calling card on digital video of a significant new talent. World take note, Daniel Montanarini has arrived and he’s going nowhere until you do the right thing and give him all your attention and money.
It’s a sixteen-minute masterwork wherein Montanarini esoterically distils the experience of a Warwick first year with the consummation of a seasoned pro, featuring a neuroses-riddled central performance by Carl Cerny and a stellar supporting cast with hilarious comedy cameos by the likes of Tim Birtles and, um, me…
OK, well I confess I may indeed have some ulterior motive for so hyperbolically recommending this film but it is nonetheless a genuinely entertaining piece of cinema.
Featuring the misadventures of Cerny’s eponymous student, The Fresher’s content traverses the ins-and-outs of the standard psuedo-debauchery experienced by the average first-year (drunken antics in halls, blazing by the lake etc…). It is testamant to Montanarini’s skill, then, that all this is rendered in a way which doesn’t seem very tiresome or cliched.
In its central third (not in a small part due to the frenetic, discontinuous editing by Kristina Tarasova), the film achieves an impressive atmosphere wherein fantastical dislocation of time and space invades the mundane in a manner which owes more than just a little to a certain Federico Fellini.
This discordance is exacerbated by the sheer peacefulness of the film’s opening and closing segments: the passive performance and measured shots of the first scene and the temporary escape to idyll of the finale (Which recalls the ephemeral escape of Antoine in Truffaut’s 1959 classic The 400 Blows) making perfect bookends for The Fresher’s central chaos.
What really marks The Fresher out from the deluge of other student film dross which is churned out every year, though, is the way in which Montanarini has processed what could be angsty late-adolescent subject matter through a sieve of throwaway humour.
While it is true that for me that the crux of the film’s appeal is its nostalgic power (I am a member of the film’s perfect demographic: a 2007 Warwick Fresher who lived in Rootes and was involved in the making of The Fresher by Daniel Montanarini), I am also confident that the film has enough spirit, ingenuity and chutzpah to win over a St. Andrews Physics post-grad.