Directed by: #RadoslavRadoslavov
Written by: Radoslav Radoslavov
A short film from Radoslav Radoslavov, Domino is an acute exploration of domination and power in relationships, whereby the participants often use sexual manipulation to promote their own agenda or to meet their desired ends.
A film student (Tsvetina Petrova) lives in both complete isolation and suffocating company. Alone in her flat, she is often talking to her long-distance and jealous boyfriend via the laptop, or carrying out BDSM on paying customers who like to be whipped and dominated. This is all filmed via secret cameras which she is using for her film studies project.
The #filmmakers utilise a basic setup in order to keep the focus on the dispirited central character. Single static, low-angle shots are used to frame the scenes, with less than a handful of rooms being filmed in. Editing is kept minimal (aside from a small punky montage in the final third) most likely to juxtapose the heightened sexual conflict of the story with its own mundanity. There is a sense of lifelessness to the piece, such as the dull colours and drab mise en scéne, reflected in the story by the central character's attempts to keep her flowers alive. All living things need sun, water, and freedom.
As with many other movies that attempt to explore the uneasy dynamic of controlling relationships, Domino is from the female perspective. We witness the events from her view, indeed from cameras she has placed strategically around the apartment, and are given a glimpse into the tragic reality of a woman attempting to resist the controlling hands of man. Any modicum of control she has over her own life seems to be in the slamming down of the laptop screen, or watering the plants. Even as she whips her customer it feels mechanical, as if she is another tool for the pleasure of a man.
It's a powerful piece in terms of gender exploitation but feels light on the audience's connection to the main character's situation and misery. We rarely get to see her as a fly on the wall, instead, the static cameras make us feel like witnesses to the emotional abuse, or even worse partaking in some form of voyeurism at her expense, even if she put the cameras there. The small glimpses at hope, such as friendly small talk from one of the patrons or the discovery that she wanted to be an actress, are few and far between.
An intelligently crafted yet ultimately unbalanced piece, Domino is too calculated to be immersive but does keep our gaze fixed firmly on the infinite power struggles that can emerge between men and women.