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Review: The Curse


- Maria Kaur Bedi and Satindar Singh Bedi's powerful first feature boldly shows us the intimacy of a couple in search of an impossible redemption

Review: The Curse

Maria Kaur Bedi, a Swiss filmmaker who trained at the ZHdK (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) and the Rhode Island School of Design (US), and Satindar Singh Bedi, an Indian filmmaker and FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) alumnus, met a few years ago at the Zurich Film Festival during a Master Class. From this meeting, at once fortuitous and written in the stars (Satindar claims to have had a premonition about it), an intense relationship was born, resulting in the feature film The Curse [+see also:
film profile
, screened at the Solothurn Film Festival, in the Prix de Soleure section.

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The Curse is one of those films that captivates you from its very first images, an UFO in the Swiss (but not only) film scene that transforms feelings into pure visual poetry. Experimental without falling into sterile intellectualism, The Curse tells the heartbreaking love story of a Swiss-Indian couple struggling with a monster called addiction. Using a poetic visual language with mystical overtones reminiscent of the violently cathartic power of Maya Deren, the film evokes the struggle against alcoholism that both of them (in different ways, he as an actor and she as a helpless observer) have to face.

The Curse alternates between moments of rage and despair and micro-sparks of hope that vanish, however, like fatal fires. The couple surrenders themselves without false modesty with a sincerity that touches deep inside, offering themselves to us in a cathartic cinematic ritual. What is told in the film is an autobiographical love story that debunks the myth of alcohol (but we could also include drugs or other forms of addiction) as a catalyst for creativity and artistic flair. The magic of cinema is put at the service of an intimate, profound and touching story that speaks with fierce honesty about the devastating consequences of alcohol addiction. An addiction that may never end, and this despite the love that unites the couple.

The choice of using a voice-over as the undisputed protagonist of the story is also particularly successful. The bodies embodied on screen are but shadows, deformed sketches of a reality that is dangerously slipping out of hand. The voice and the phrases recited with heart-rending emotional power are all that remains of the protagonists, now empty shells clinging tightly to their last hopes. In a sort of endless poetry slam, the voices of Maria Kaur Bedi and Sati (as she tenderly calls him) follow one another without meeting, their echoes expanding into the cosmos in search of answers that perhaps do not even exist.

The Curse is a monologue in two voices (three if we consider the obsessive ranting of addiction) that feeds on a sound subtext evoking the past: the chirping of birds, Sati's muffled footsteps in the snow as he recounts his cruel childhood, music that sometimes turns into a mantra with a mystical flavour. The emotions expressed by the two protagonists are visceral, more animal than human, a reflection of an inner struggle that turns into fury. Emblematic and touching in this regard is Sati's description of his mother shortly before she died of alcoholism, a mixture of familiar scents such as incense and kajal and frightening odours such as hospital disinfectant or that emanating from her body now ravaged by addiction.

The Curse is an extremely courageous and aesthetically powerful film that confronts us with the difficulties of loving someone despite their inner demons, an unconditional love that wants to illuminate the darkness.

The Curse was produced by Swiss outfits Spirited Heroine Productions and Tilt Production.

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(Translated from Italian)

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