Evan rides the bus all day instead of going to school. But one day he meets a girl who will give him a lesson he’ll never forget.
Before his comedic masterpiece, Ten Thousand Days, Michael Duignan created Truant, another wonderful and unconventional film, about Evan, a shy kid who would rather ride the bus all day and draw pictures instead of going to school.
But the film is not about bus rides and drawings, for Evan, things turn bittersweet for when he decides to follow a teenage girl off the bus. Romy, the girl, seems like the embodiment of everything he daydreams about: excitement, rebellion and sex. A tentative friendship emerges as they journey across the hinterland of the city, killing time and having fun. Evan thinks he has found a companion that understands him, but he soon learns that he doesn’t understand Romy at all.
Truant is a film about being young, hanging around with the wrong people and learning tough lessons. It’s told in the form of fragments, as though it is unfolding like a memory, skipping back and forth, with fragments and images jumping around within the narrative.
The film carries a particular grainy old school style and camera movements that enhance Michael’s vision of fragmented storytelling, and uses a cold color palette to transcend the mystery brought by both characters, especially Romy. Full on inspirations, Michael is not afraid to tell us where he got them from:
I was really inspired by the films of Steven Soderbergh, (especially The Limey and Out of Sight) Nicholas Roeg (Don’t Look Now) and Lynn Ramsay (Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar). I tried to find a certain poetry in the journey, as though we were looking back on an event with a mixture of bittersweetness and wisdom. I like the idea that Evan carries a scar from his time with Romy, but no regrets.
Michael opted for first time actors with Shanti Webby and Emlyn Williams, and sometimes for films like this, the unexpected results is exactly what was intended.
Both Shanti Webby and Emlyn Williams were first timers, and we hung out together for a few days before the shoot, walking around town, figuring out character details and moments together, including improvising some scenes that ended up in the film.