Jamie Thraves explores identity in this pair of promos for the All-American Rejects' first album in five years. The promos - which function as a short film despite showcasing two separate tracks - explore identity in a unique, poignant way rarely seen (let alone pulled off with such aplomb) in under twelve minutes.
The film begins with 'Sweat', in which we're introduced to singer and sometime actor Tyson Ritter playing Betsy, a cross-dressing prostitute. The visuals play with light and shadow as Betsy walks the dark city streets, the night culminating in a gender-bending hook-up, police raid, and choreographed dance number.
And - deep breath - that's just the first half.
The second promo, 'Close Your Eyes', sees Betsy transform into Robert: a suit-wearing, seemingly straight-laced man. The film strikes a completely different tone from the very beginning, as we feel the character's discomfort in their own skin. A soft shot of trashed, half picked-off nail polish is only the first emotional gut-punch of many.
Upon arriving home, Robert finds his friends and family have thrown him a surprise party... or so it would seem. We won't spoil the twist, but there's a distinct poignancy to the character's attempt to exist in the worlds between Patrick Bateman and Rayon (Dallas Buyer's Club); between being paid to care and paying for care.
The intriguing films' final shots leave the viewer with the enduring question of who is the fiction: Betsy or Robert? Is there a mask at play, or are there nothing but masks? Jamie Thraves astutely leaves the audience to come to their own conclusions, and the work is all the more powerful for it.