Directed by Taversia
Starring Taversia, Alexander McCoy, and Leopoldo Hernandez Jr
Short Film Review by Owen Herman
As mental health is becoming increasingly talked about, art is beginning to explore it in more depth and in more interesting ways. Embracing Shadows is part of this trend, a unique student film that looks at depression and anxiety through complex metaphors.
Directed and starring Taversia, the short follows the both the real and imagined experiences of one woman suffering with her mental health. It looks at day to day experiences, like going to a job interview, as well as the visual representation of what her mind is going through, such as the use of literal shadows following her. It is with these visual representations that the film falls flat. The metaphors used are too surreal to really have an impact, and instead are hard to grasp as they become increasingly bizarre. Some are too on the nose, and therefore lose their intended thought provoking effect, while others are too complex to have any clear meaning. There are some cleverly used effects – I particularly liked the use of static noise – but as a whole the short is too effects heavy and feels overly stylised. The messages that the film is trying to get across are clearly secondary to its arty and showy appearance.
A lot of what the short has to say is interesting and relevant. The idea of embracing these issues, as opposed to fighting them, is a debate that is not often explored. The problem with this short is that, although it touches on these fascinating topics, it never goes beneath the surface. It is this lack of depth that means when the film is finished, there is no emotional impact. It is certainly far from meaningless, and there is plenty to think about, but it's far less impactful than it should have been.
The film also contains no succinct narrative structure or dialogue, making it hard to get into the character on screen. Although it is clearly meant as a visual representation of ill mental health, without any sense of character, it is difficult to emotionally engage with.
Overall, despite its well-meaning intentions, Embracing Shadows fails to explore its themes effectively, and feels unsatisfying in its presentation of often thought-provoking content.