Drama-film, “New Year” is masterpiece of subtle storytelling, inventive twists and turns


Courtesy of Mohawk Street Productions

“New Year” was written by Nathan Sutton and Elisha Renee Sutton. The story takes place on New Year’s Eve and follows an unhappy couple and their friends.

Sometimes a film’s story is told by what isn’t said, the punches that are pulled, the shots unfired, the secrets unspoken left to simmer, fester and bubble just below the surface. The new drama film, “New Year,” co-written by Nathan Sutton and his wife Elisha Renee Sutton, toes the line of spoken and unspoken, drawing tension from the only slightly veiled secrets of an upper class Hollywood friend group, most of whom are artists in some form or another. 

The story is told in the reactions of these characters to one and another, the camera oftentimes resting its eye on a character who is not even involved in the scene’s dialogue just to focus on their reactions. More than once at the beginning of the film this felt jarring, but as it went on, the central idea of the film came into focus. The story is told mostly in the ways that these characters interact with each other, the way they react to each other, the subtleties of what is said and what is meant, and making the final moments of honesty among them all the more poignant. 

One recurring visual element in the film is the use of mirrors. Characters are often shot either in the reflection of a mirror or window. Notably, the poster for the film has the cast reflected in a mirrored dinner table with their warped reflections below them, an intentional choice by Elisha Renee Sutton. 

“We had no hesitation using the mirrors because everything about this movie is a reflection,” Nathan Sutton said. “It’s forcing people to look at themselves in the mirror and deal with the people they are.”

The film is creatively shot, often using the same spaces (the set of the house) in a variety of different ways, often changing the way the viewer sees the same spaces. “New Year” is also in black and white, which helps strip away distractions to focus the eye on the characters.

“Part of black and white, and the dolly and the way that we wanted to attack this film was about having intention to the things we wanted to say, and making the camera an active part of this movie was trying to guide attention to the things the things we think are important rather than [just] capturing it,” Nathan Sutton said. 

It’s this attention that can sometimes be off-putting, but by the end of the film, there isn’t any other way that it could have been done. 

Although the film is about people in the film industry, the creators made a movie which uses the arts as a familiar backdrop, but they didn’t intend to make an “industry movie.” 

“This is a personal story and what’s interesting is that people are finding themselves in the characters whether they’re an actor or not an actor,” Elisha Renee Sutton said. “These could be any people in any profession…and the problems they deal with are universal.”

The story the film tells is certainly made better by the main characters’ ties to the film industry; however, this seems to have more to do with the fact that the film was written by actors. There is an element of authenticity to the performances which shines through for some incredibly memorable scenes. 

“New Year” is a masterclass in subtle storytelling, and a creative and inventive tale of pulled- strings and twists and turns buried shallowly beneath the guise of a dinner party. It is definitely worth the watch for any film fan.