Saturday, September 22, 2012

“Adeline” – Movie Review


“Adeline” from Riva Nova Films is a short film that was recently selected to play at The 9th Annual Big Apple Film Festival in New York City screening at the Tribeca Cinemas in late 2012; the film was brought to my attention by its director Joseph Arnone , who collaborated on the piece with its actress, Daniella Alma , who portrays the title character.  The eight minute film may either be viewed below or on Vimeo, where you may also leave comments.  The filmmaker describes his effort as follows: 

The story opens up to reveal a poet’s life or death circumstances. Played by Daniella Alma, the character Adeline decides to literally dig up her past with shovel in hand, reaching deep into the ground to reconnect with a book of her most personal writings. Over the course of this short film we experience the inner battle that Adeline encounters with her darker self.

According to its post on Vimeo, the film “Adeline” is supposed to resonate the following quote from the British writer Virginia Woolf:

'It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality...Had I not killed her she would have killed me.'


The choice of music for this piece was excellent; the film was scored well as it defines an appropriate mood to set up the story we were about to be told – very dark, very foreboding.  Additionally, the filmmaker’s decision to use establishing shots showed some rather solid technique.  Generally, the film was well-shot and maintained a quite professional and elegant look to it all throughout in terms of technical attributes of composition and shot selection.  “Adeline” showed a wise use of its modest resources, as far as its production values are concerned. 

All of that said, however, I must add that stylistically, I found “Adeline” to be Bergmanesque to a fault.  Add Death playing a game of chess with the film’s title character, and it would be complete.  Also, I felt that its attempts at symbolism and allegory were artistically heavy-handed, especially in a short film, where less would have been more.  One note about this film that was otherwise shot rather well is the fact that the lighting was a little too dim at times; while I believe this was to keep with the overall dark mood of the story, it made things a bit challenging to watch at times. 

While I haven’t yet seen any other works by this aspiring director, I would say that based solely on my viewing of “Adeline”, he has a good career as a cinematographer lying ahead.  As a director, however, I found this film to be somewhat lacking in its clarity, narrative and overall story-telling ability.  Alternating between color and black and white was rather confusing; were the black and white scenes supposed to be dream sequences or flashbacks?  Difficult to tell from what I saw. 

What do you think?  Feel free to leave a comment here or on Vimeo (from the link above). 


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