Updated: Aug 10, 2019
Directed by: #BogdanAlbu
Bogdan Albu’s Romanian short film 500 presents an optimistic perspective on life. It shows us how seemingly insignificant acts of kindness can add up to bring miraculous changes. The film begins with a cathartic invocation to the Gods followed by a drowning scene where the protagonist is shown trying to commit suicide, metaphorically symbolizing the idea of purging, an attempt to wash herself clean. However, just when Maria decides to quit, she notices another person attempting to take his own life. In a strange reversal of fates, Maria ends up saving this man from drowning. But exactly who saves whom?
While the identity of the man remains unspecified, one can interpret his presence as an angelic force, a sort of blessing in disguise. Throughout the film we witness how one act of kindness on the part of Maria starts off a cycle of kindness all around. One is stopped from becoming a thief, another is saved from losing her pension. While Maria gives away the money she had gathered to pay her electricity bill, it returns to her as luck would have it. As an expression of his gratitude, the unnamed man returns the money he receives from Maria’s husband to Maria, leaving it in her car. The film beautifully demonstrates how people’s lives are interconnected and to maintain harmony, one must be empathetic to one another.
In the opening scene, waves advance and retreat on the shore, like our lives taking twists and turns for better or worse. The music stretches across the horizon of the sea shore, haunting us and blurring the voices of the characters, giving their conversation that detached sense which happens when someone suddenly regains consciousness. Inside Maria’s kitchen, the man sits quietly eating the food that she has served him and water from his jacket drips on the floor creating a strange tension. Will he stay back, will he leave, is he alright? It is important to note that, here, the screen stops being a divide, like Maria we are also worried about him and anxious about his safety. Thanks to their realistic performances, we can relate with the characters at a personal level.
The camera lingers, focusing on every little detail, the way he cuts his food into pieces, the way she stirs the coffee. The story flows slowly, patiently unfurling each scene without any hurry. But the restrained behavior of the strange man makes us uneasy. We keep anticipating something. A certain level of mystery and suspense is created that helps with the grander picture of miracles. It suggests how some things in lives cannot be explained or comprehended. 500 is a short film that asks us questions but leaves them unanswered, letting us choose our own interpretations. It’s an open ended film, thought-provoking and almost philosophical, allowing our imagination to run wild. Worth watching!
Watch the official movie trailer for 500 below.