Future Frames Review: Warm Comedy about Depression, Madness and Unfulfilled Dreams
by Laurence Boyce
- Screening as part of EFP’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary, Michal Ďuriš’ film takes a sideways look at dealing with depression
The cinema has tended to treat the illness of depression with either great swathes of melodrama – such as in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia – or as a source of immense pain and suffering such as Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. These are all perfectly legitimate approaches on which to treat the disease, but there is plenty of space for other viewpoints. Slovak director Michal Ďuriš fills this space admirably with Warm Comedy about Depression, Madness and Unfulfilled Dreams (Hrejivá komédia o depresii, šialenstve a nesplnených snoch) which portrays a family dealing with the everyday effects of living with depression and trying to come out of the other side.
The film is a series of vignettes that follows the follows the family as they go through everyday life. They play games, sit in the sun and argue with each other. It’s clear that the matriarch is suffering from depression as her husband becomes increasingly frustrated with her mood swings. Add in the fact that he can’t get through to his sons, it would seem the stage is set for everything to fall apart. But the film shows that family life is often a series of little battles and that it’s never about winning the war – just coming out of everything with your life intact.
This is a staccato and disjointed affair that makes much of cinematic trickery to put across the ups and downs of dealing with depression. There’s often a contradiction at the heart of things such as filming in 4:3 – which gives a sense of claustrophobia and enclosure – but then having scenes utilising tracking shots and vistas of bright sunshine which give a sense of exhilaration. There’s a particularly beautiful scene in which the parents communicate via the use of sticky notes posted on the window which speaks of both a fracture and a strong level of intimacy. Depression here is not a static thing that is dealt with or not. Like the film, it is constantly changing .
The performances are also very good. Adrian Jastraban, as the father, gives a sympathetic portrayal of a man who is clearly frustrated by the toll the depression takes on his wife, and he’s prone to anger and irrationality. But he’s clearly a man who is constantly trying to do his best and striving to be a better man. Szidi Tobias is also very good, eschewing histrionics and instead balancing the normality and numbness that depression can often entail.
In many ways the film is a perfect use of the short form, as it comes across not as a finite story but a glimpse into the lives of a family who could be anyone in the world dealing with similar circumstances. There is a feeling that the struggle will always go on but – with the film’s joyous closing shot – that this family at least might be able to weather the storm
For more information on the film click here.
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