★★★★ Directed by: Tharun Mohan Written by: Tharun Mohan Starring: Natali Servat, Alvaro Cea Alvarez, Bhasker Patel, Maria Carmel, Paul Parker Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
With crisp visuals and a tense, mysterious atmosphere, short film A Purgatory State of Mind from filmmaker Tharun Mohan is a contemplative piece of cinema that aims to a tell a love story from either side of life and death.
Anna (Natali Servat) opens the short film with a brutal and shocking sequence of self-harm that is layered with emotional depth. The questions that the audience have begin to mount up surrounding this character before she is transported from her bathroom floor to a train carriage. Inside the carriage are a couple of guys (Alvaro Cea Alvarez and Bhasker Patel) who hold some of the answers to Anna’s puzzlement as to where she finds herself, and thereby unlocking some of the answers for the viewer.
An intelligently crafted piece, A Purgatory State of Mind aims to tell a bold story in a daring way, which is totally commendable. The performances are solid, in particular Servat, who transfixes the audience from the opening scene with her intimate violence, enabling us to be completely immersed in the dramatic story which unfolds. Her dialogue with Cea Alvarez is also compelling, the two embark on a philosophical exchange which is poignant and heartfelt. There was a sequence involving a nurse and doctor near the end which sadly lacked the same gusto in terms of performance but did lend a suitably thrilling conclusion to the short.
There was a lovely piece of music which played over the opening sequence of Anna cutting her hair in front of the mirror which was genuinely affecting. It suited the tone of the story wonderfully and supported the tense visuals really well. There were some other moments where the sound design was used to great effect. Such as a scene in the bath where all other sound stops except Anna.
Thematically there are some interesting topics raised by Mohan, who opts for a drama-cum-mystery laced with romance. His characters are well sketched and there is plenty for the audience to chew on long after the movie finishes. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, the ideas of love, life, and death affect us all and each one of these gets explored with commanding storytelling.