Cathartique short film review

★★★★★

Directed by: #DusanMrden

Written by: #DusanMrden, #BaptisteCharles

Starring: #MilaPejic

Film Review by: Darren Tilby



Dusan Mrden’s latest offering, French-language short film, Cathartique, is a wonderfully poetic piece of artistic filmmaking. A tour de force of emotional clout which makes excellent use of colour and camera trickery to represent the psychological state of its singular character.


Within its modest two-minute runtime, we see a woman (Romy), psychologically stuck in the past, eventually accepting her place in the present—no matter how scary it may be. Romy is played to absolute perfection by the spellbinding Mila Pejic. Whose performance, which is almost entirely physical (the only dialogue in the film is a running narration which serves as Romy’s inner voice), is subtle and sublime, as well as thoroughly moving. Indeed, Pejic is the very heart of this film.


The movie itself is a jigsaw of many pieces. Vladimir Janic’s cinematography is so essential here and utilises different styles as symbolism. Home-video footage (small aspect ratio, grainy and imperfect) is used to show, not only memories but a longing for the past. While close-up black & white shots (beautifully detailed and artistic in nature) display the complex range of emotions battling for control within Romy’s psyche. Passion, love, lust, happiness and anxiety, among others, all feature here, even if only for a fleeting couple of seconds.


As well as this, however, there are moments in which background elements of the movie are reversed - at times it’s a fountain flowing upwards, and at others, it’s smoke from a cigarette blowing back into it. I may possibly be looking too much into this, but for me, this, as well as the black & white nature of the film, showed how Romy actively wanted to rewind time. At least, until we reach that final shot; as the movie finally transitions to colour. There’s so much depth here and so much to pick apart in such a compact runtime, both Dusan Mrden and Harvey Puttock (editor and supervising editor respectively) have done a superb job fitting all the pieces together into something so meaningful and incisive.


I’m a big fan of Cathartique, as you can probably tell. This is a short film that not only knows its limitations but also how to use them to great effect. It’s superbly acted, visually breathtaking, the direction is first-rate, and the whole thing is fantastically soldered together. And at less than two-minutes long, repeat viewings – and you really should – are enjoyable and enlightening. This is superlative short-film making, one you really shouldn’t miss.