Looking like a cross between Crispin Glover and PJ Harvey, the perpetually hunched-over, often furrow-browed Tito skulks around in fear with a red emergency whistle around his neck. His employment and source of trauma both remain vague. The Canadian director-actor-writer Grace Glowicki plays the title role in her debut feature, gender-bending as a male character with sideburns and baggy clothes. Tito’s reclusive, reticent mannerisms probably would have been a bizarre protrusion during its festival run; now, they feel like universally recognizable quarantine behavior.
Although the film is not completely successful as a character study, Glowicki’s eye for claustrophobic framing stands out. She also uses music — through Casey MQ’s discordant score — to eloquently mirror what may run through Tito’s scattered mind. “Tito” is a better achievement in sound and visuals than plot or character. The sheer strangeness of the film may be mesmerizing at first, but even the slim 70-minute run time eventually feels tedious when so little happens.
The isolation ends when a jovial neighbor named John (Ben Petrie) strong-arms his way into Tito’s life. There are makings of an extrovert-introvert buddy comedy with the arrival of John, a stoner who punctuates his sentences with “brother.” Tito’s exaggerated expressions of bliss after his first puffs of marijuana also find strains of slapstick stoner comedy. Unfortunately, the film falls apart in the second half, when John takes a sharp misogynistic turn. Glowicki seems to want to say something about consent or sexual predation, but the message gets muddled with a stylized nightclub scene too abstract to land a punch.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.