An anxious woman drives along a wet, foggy, and deserted coastal road. She stops to bury a box of some kind in the woods, then drives on. She’s next seen quickly burying an unseen object in a sand dune, before once again driving on. Her darting eyes hint at a fear of being seen or followed. Next she’s standing in a wet field of broken trees, in her open hand are three orange capsules that she quickly throws. Back in the car she tries to stifle a laugh. It’s now getting dark and she drives down to the rocky beach, where she greets a young boy with an embrace.
The woman is Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton and over the course of the three-minute film Special Sets the Standard, not a word is spoken and the soundtrack is eerily quiet. It’s also a car commercial for the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.
Directed by Roe Ethridge, it has the vague plotting and wordless narrative of many a fashion film, but somehow Swinton’s intensity, along with the cinematography of Andre Chemetoff, make it work. And even if you half expected a mermaid to show up, you have to admit the car looks great.