Music written and performed by: #MadaMada
The music video for Montreal artist Mada Mada’s ‘Autonome’ is presented to us as a compelling short film combining the art of music and film with the likes of contemporary dance. Alexandre Richards brings a fresh take on a performance-based film by driving plot through emotion and expressionism.
The plot follows a young man writing of a boat astray at sea. The writer finds himself confronting what all writers come to hate, writers block. Through what seems like frustration and anguish, the writer begins to express his ill-feeling through the twisting and stretching of his body as though possessed by the words that haunt him. The narrative, although simple, manages to capture the interest of the audience by investing heavily into the conveying of the protagonist’s emotional journey rather than the story he is writing. This plays to the films advantage by leaving the limelight on the music and the performance carrying the film.
The choreography and performance from Desgagnés is riveting and outstanding in every manor of the word. The fluid and erratic motion of his body sends a shiver down the spine by introducing movements, which I for one, never knew could be carried out by anyone. Although other elements of filmmaking certainly enhanced this, it shows a complete coherence between performer and filmmaker. Regardless of choreography, Charles’ acting within the opening and ending scenes are also strong.
The cinematography is excellent in capturing the performance in tracking Desgagné’s flowing movement as well as the perfect tracking sequences prior. The colour scale of grey’s, blues and greens truthfully represent the tone of mood and emotion displayed. The gentle yet significant lighting drifting through the adjacent windows are executed well adding an underlining glimpse of hope to the plot.
The importance of editing is ever more present in this piece adding pace and emphases in complementing the dance routine. Director Alexandre Richards uses a rapid cutting technique to ramp up emotion after first introducing the characters and setting using time to add a real sense of calm and atmosphere. In addition, The VFX raindrop works a treat in triggering the second act involving rainfall.
Kristopher Laflamme’s simplistic sound design is vital to this piece adding a chilling note of bones creaking, flesh stretching and contact between body and floor. If anyone says a music video doesn’t need a strong sound design is wrong. ‘Autonome’s’ sound design is key in adding a real sense of horror and torture to the protagonist’s mental well-being. Not to mention the fact that Mada Mada’s soundtrack doesn’t begin until nearly two minutes into the five-minute film.
Overall, ‘Autonome’ is a very respectable piece offering strong emotion through the means of a simplistic plot achieved through the excellent craftmanship of filmmaking and choreography. As always, despite the high rating I must mention the few discrepancies which were not to my taste. Firstly, although the added information of location reveals the artist Mada Mada’s place of origin, it adds nothing to the plot, especially the included timestamp of ‘1954’. This is represented consistently by the production design but ultimately adds nothing to the film itself. Secondly, one of the last shots in being the back of an individual’s head is captured beautifully and yet also adds nothing to plot. If anything, it takes away from the climax making it confusing as to why the filmmakers decided to add another mystery character at the very end of the film. Despite this, I loved viewing this music video and would do so over and over again.