The Puzzle

Certificate: Uncertified
Running time: 5 mins
Director: Davide Melini
Starring: Cachito Noguera, Alessandro Fornari
Genre: Short, Mystery
Country: Spain

Davide Melini is a 34 year old film maker from Rome who is making a name for himself for both The Puzzle and, most recently, The Sweet Hand of the White Rose.   As a film blogger I get sent a lot of links and DVDs for critique, by and large the most difficult films to review are the short film offerings.  They limit the avenue for scope for a critic considerably so what I thought I would do would be to look at the work of Melini over the next short while, focusing on a handful of cinematic elements in each of the films to not only deliver a review of the individual films but a review and understanding of the film maker himself.  First up is his 2008 short film The Puzzle.

Spurning the requests of her son (Fornari) a mother (Noguera) relaxes in her home with her favourite past time, a jigsaw puzzle.

The first thing you need to know is that five minute movies are incredibly difficult to make and they increase in difficulty with every second they lose.  There’s no room for characterisation or even development; they must be exposition in it’s purest form but do so in a way that doesn’t keep the audience at an arms length – as we need to want to know what’s happening.  For this to happen the short film has a reliance on the visual that greater than that of it’s feature cousin.  There are two distinct ways in which this can occur.  The first is layering up the mise-en-scene to develop a scene that is rich in context but will require multiple viewings to understand the characters, the second is through cinematography – and it is the latter which we’ll be focusing on with The Puzzle.

Melini’s use of the camera is one that is belonging to the feature.  Camerawork has long been the messenger of the psyche in cinema, a shortcut for the audience into the mind of the protagonist and it’s not only Melini’s understanding of this that’s incredibly strong but also his execution of this.  The positioning, movement and editing of The Puzzle creates an understanding of a difficult, fractured relationship between mother and son.  A relationship that has rejected the natural love in favour of the secular and the son’s constant pursuit of money.  Similarly it allows the audience into the head of the mother and the level of loss, unease, confusion and general ill feeling that’s coming from the latest in a series of rejections from the fruit of her loins.  It’s all inferred of course, that is the point of this cinematography but it is psychologically and emotionally complex. 

The narrative of the film itself, on the surface, seems relatively straight forward but is enriched by the cinematic understanding of the strained relationship.  A money grabbing son intentionally stresses his mother because he knows how she will react and what she will do in order to overcome the stress he has induced.  It’s dark and bitterly spiteful in it's intelligence, Melini has demonstrated a skilled understanding of film making that will hopefully develop into a feature film mastery of the art.  Atmospheric, claustrophobic and for anyone wishing to check it out available below.

 


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