Directed by: #AjitThorbole
Can’t is a #shortfilm from director Ajit Thorbole that attempts to tap into the very current issues of addiction and mental health.
In the opening shot, we are presented with Nitin (portrayed by Sawan Koul), a 19-year-old student living in Mumbai, India. Made fairly clear from the eerie introduction, our main character is emotionally fragile and in trouble with drugs. Thorbole has done an effective job of immediately creating a clear atmosphere with the arrangement of the room where Nitin spends the entirety of his time on screen. The drug den nature of the scene is apparent and the initial black and white tone of the shot complements this well.
Thorbole also uses some nice camerawork throughout and the continual close-ups of Nitin are powerful in many places. The layout of the entire film gives us no doubt of the difficulty Nitin is experiencing.
However, there are many elements to the film that are quite jarring. Thorbole’s transitions between shots, particularly in the first half, are poorly executed, particularly when it comes to the sound editing which is uneven in manner and volume. The end result is a likely unwanted #horror tone being added to the scene which takes away from the core issues that Nitin is experiencing. The start noises on the recordings of Nitin’s parents, meant to be representing what he is hearing in his mind, tamper with the effectiveness of the scene.
Koul’s acting struggles to bring the emotional audience response sought as he alternates between sad face and smile the whole way through. Although he is convincing when it comes to his issues with marijuana, the rest of the performance is a bit too forced and obvious.
Can’t has a misplaced focus on objects – the plant, bottle, joint and drawing – that fails to provoke enough association with deeper meaning. Nitin’s relationships with these objects is difficult to attribute to any part of his story in particular. This is especially strange when the shot changes to colour as he is fiddling with the plant. Although this effect is clearly there to demonstrate a change in mood, the timings and lack of reasoning once more fail to engage.
There is a lack of clarity on exactly what story is trying to be told here, since the write-up for the film sounds like something entirely different with a much larger backstory. Although this can be hard to portray in detail in a short film, in Can’t there isn’t enough to satisfy the audience with a strong, lasting connection to this story. The strange element of Nitin throwing his own family drawing directly at the camera is almost comical.
Can’t ends up being a fairly confused short film that perhaps should have focused on either addiction or Nitin’s backstory with his family – the combination leaves for a rushed and unemotional tale with a misplaced focus.