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Self-exploration

DAY 5 The day’s films dealt with coming-of-age experiences

entertainment Updated: Oct 28, 2010 16:22 IST

Film: Vital signs
Director: Sophie Deraspe

Subtle, a little cold, a little depressive, humanly warm: a simple description to Les Signes Vitaux (Vital Signs), a film by Sophie Deraspe.

This Canadian film is about Simone who, with the loss of her grandmother, finds a reason to help the patients of a care centre. But this is merely on the surface; this volunteering is her way to grieve, to free herself of guilt for forgetting her grandmother, and to run away from her loneliness.

Simone has a boyfriend to whom she cannot open up to. She has had an accident, lost both her legs and now uses artificial limbs. She walks on empty snowy streets and starts to think of herself as a messiah.

She indulges in casual sex with her boyfriend and prefers to be alone. The character has a perfect postmodern issue – fractured psyche, depressive and lost in herself.

The director portrays the warm relationships between the protagonist and the characters, and that lifts up the mundane nature of the environment. Death is symbolised through music, and human relationships with silence. The movie is the director’s attempt to tell us to appreciate life while we still can breathe.

The writer is part of the Mumbai Film Festival's (MAMI) Young Critics’ Programme, an initiative of HT Cafe

Film:A Stone’s Thrown Away
Director: Sebastian Hiriart

I’m going to say this in one go: I really enjoyed the movie. Its simplicity is what appealed to me.

Jacinto, an underdog protagonist, is in search of a treasure in the snow, which he dreams about while shepherding in Mexico.

When he finds a key chain with mountains and a house embossed on it, with an address of Sprague River in Oregon on the back, Jacinto begins his hunt.

Prior to this, he hasn’t even stepped out of his village. And, predictably, he has many coming-of-age experiences.

The honest portrayal of Jacinto (Jacinto Medina) is what defines the movie. The innocence drips from his face, even when he’s trying to be cool.

You feel bad when he’s robbed and tricked, triumphant when he thinks he’s actually fulfilled his dream, and empathy in the end.

Hiriart should also be congratulated for his photography. Shots of Jacinto walking through the Mexican countryside, the Arizona desert, even the snow forest are just breathtaking. He’s used the sky well to reflect Jacinto’s state of mind.

I appreciate the director because he makes the audience believe that Jacinto is successful, that he’s got his ‘treasure’. But his back-to-square-one situation lends a much more realistic edge to the movie.

The writer is part of the Mumbai Film Festival's (MAMI) Young Critics’ Programme, an initiative of HT Cafe

Film: Majority
Director: Seren Yüce

Majority is a critique on the Turkish society and the power of masculinity. The story revolves around Mertkan, the son of a wealthy construction company owner, who lives with his parents despite being old enough to earn on his own. He does nothing but hang around with his friends. The irony of a modern and liberal Istanbul vis-à-vis Mertkan’s inability to shun tradition and retaliate to his father’s constant bullying and dictatorship is the main plot of the film.

Mertkan represents the youth of Istanbul of a slightly upper class stature. On the surface, he seems to be having fun drinking, smoking, having a joint, going to the mall with friends, driving around, etc. This leads to complete self-isolation at home. You see a change in his character as soon as he starts dating Gul but, sadly, is forced to break up with her as she is a “gypsy” from Van, a place on the Armenian border, and has run away from home. Mertkan’s father is a traditional chauvinist with set ideologies. There is dark humour in the film, which is portrayed well by the actors. The setting and lighting enhance the mood.

There are many literary articles and films based on female oppression, but this film talks about male oppression. Also, since the story is shown to be in Istanbul, the title refers to the majority of Muslim Turks and comments on their plight through dark humour.

The writer is part of the Mumbai Film Festival's (MAMI) Young Critics’ Programme, an initiative of HT Cafe