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Drunkenness indie film review


Film Review by Nathanial Eker

Drunkenness takes an experimental plunge into the nauseous feelings of intoxication and anxiety that come from one too many beers. The film explores themes of existentialism, madness, and regret throughout its eighty-minute runtime, yet its slow pace and arduous narrative style harm what could've been an interesting experimental short. Regrettably, it is far, far too long in its current form and though it boasts an intriguing premise, it quickly loses its audience's attention.

Dario (David Lejuez) wakes up after a night of partying at his old family mansion in France. He's joined by his two friends/brothers Mazzio (Fournarel) and Ramirez (Moreno), though the two don't initially respond to his presence. It soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems as Dario tries to escape a waking nightmare bought on by alcohol but perpetuated by his own subconscious.

Drunkenness manages to convey a lot through its visual style. The combination of a slightly clouded lens and a somewhat other-worldly mise-en-scene (albeit one grounded in post-teenage vices) makes for a creepy setting that is immediately impactful. Equally, the shifting colour palette further exemplifies how Dario moves further and further from reality with every passing hour/minute/second? A timeframe is never clear. However, the consistent use of strobe effects is obnoxiously intense and will likely be unsuitable for anyone with even slight epilepsy. The film's sound design fares better. The droning howls of technologically produced non-diegetic sounds clash with the diegesis of beautiful music from a grand piano.

Thematically, Drunkenness explores issues of existentialism and regret through an intoxicated protagonist brimming in boozey anxiety. Indeed, Dario's dour reflections on life, career choices, and relationships are more than relatable for anyone who's ever had one too many and started harping on about their greatest regrets. Equally, the issues of coming to terms with one's existence will be familiar to viewers of both experimental films and those who've had an intense trip or two. Of course, most people don't go on to commit murder, but the final act of violence is a suitable climax to Dario's descent into insanity.

Regrettably then, Drunkenness fails to sell itself as it ambles around and repetitiously reinforces the same dialogue time and again without much rhyme or reason. Of course, dialogue can be effectively vapid and nonsensical in experimental cinema, yet the groans and grunts of director/lead Alexandre David Lejuez soon start to become grating instead of frightening. While the vision is clear, its execution is poor, and the film becomes incredibly dull.

Drunkenness is visually appealing and boasts excellent sound design and an unnerving premise. Unfortunately, the sheer length of the project dilutes every ounce of tension. While we're left to ponder the complexities of the protagonist's condition, the film's lack of direction ultimately leads it to become what experimental films should never be: boring.

Hardcore fans of experimental flicks looking for a bizarre journey into the subconscious with some neat sound design may enjoy it. However, for most, it's probably better to stay teetotal than indulge in Drunkennness.



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