Dazedly short film review

Directed by: #AnonaLanga

Written by: Anona Langa

Starring: #TesniKujore, #CraigAbbott, #KathrynOReilly

Short Film Review by: Corey Bulloch

Beyond Tesni Kujore’s character of Holly practising her sword skills in a dreamlike state as a power ballad roared over the swift movements of steel, there is nothing clear or satisfying about Anona Langa’s film concerning insanity and abuse. Dazedly follows the non-linear story of Holly, an abuse survivor struggling to comprehend the reality around her as editor Nana Dankwa showcases how Holly’s trauma bleeds into her present. However, it is frustrating as even after multiple rewatches it is difficult to make clear how everything is connected or even relevant to the film. Educated assumptions can be made from certain contexts or dialogue but a lot of the character’s behaviours are just vague with no real catharsis by the end. Dazedly can never break free from its confusing execution as writer-director Anona Langa can’t make sense from all the flashbacks, visions, and side plots. So much seems to happen on screen but it’s all hollow despite the thematic intentions of what’s attempted to be explored. Holly’s past and trauma is the clearest piece of the film, the specific flashbacks to her youth and visions of bloody rituals suggest revenge against an abuser clouds her thoughts. Kujore’s performance is nothing spectacular as the big emotional scene with Craig Abbott has them both fall victim to melodrama and poor camera work but the sequences when she wields the sword do break the monotony of trying to make sense of everything. So much of the experience of watching Dazedly is trying to piece together the narrative but Langa’s direction makes it more of a headache then it should be as the third act conclusions do almost nothing to confirm any theory one might have. Abbott’s character of Mel and Kathryn O’Reilly’s character's connection to Holly is never fully revealed, are they figures from her past? connected to the abuse? In fact, O’Reilly’s scenes with her catty group of friends make the film even more confusing. Langa and Dankwa just seem to keep adding visual stimuli in hopes to hide narrative shortcomings but it just dampens audience engagement even more. Technically Dazedly is mostly competent, the editing is confusing but the execution of Holly’s visions from cinematographer Lewi London does add some visual flair to the film. Though the 180-degree rule appears to be broken during Holly and Mel’s fight breaking the tension and again not every visual choice is explained or put into context. Dazedly loses sight of what it wants to be about constantly, Holly’s journey leaving nothing to learn from when the credits roll. It’s not manipulative in how it portrays abuse survival but more inattentive, as if it were an afterthought in place of the visuals. Insanity as a character trait is not an excuse for disjointed filmmaking, Holly’s dissection from reality can’t just be represented by confusing storytelling. It doesn’t come across as experimental as nothing is explained or resolved and in the end, you can’t gather an emotional response from Dazedly beyond confusion.

#CoreyBulloch #shortfilm