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Face Wash short film review

Directed by: #AnkitSingha

Written by: Ankit Singha

Starring: #ArpanDutta

 

Well, the title is certainly accurate as the bulk of Face Wash’s screen time is devoted to the imagery of a man compulsively washing his face. Why is he doing this? What has driven him to this point? Is it insecurity? Obsession? Addiction? A question I’m sure writer-director Ankit Singha wants the audience to ponder through this brief production, yet is left with no interesting resolution. The man at the bathroom mirror is drawn again and again to the seemingly tantalising face wash, examining his skin and repeating the process until it leads to his demise. The ambiguity comes across more like an empty gesture rather than a thematic riddle for the audience, there is little reason to care or be driven by this.


Screengrab from 'Face Wash'. Showing the protagonist looking at himself in a mirror, remnants of the face wash across his features.

Face Wash feels like a film that tries to make something out of nothing, a low budget affair that uses black and white cinematography and quick editing to invoke grander meaning in a mundane action. This is not Scorsese’s The Big Shave, and Singha’s direction offers little tension or intrigue into his protagonists’ mental state, even in the short runtime, the frantic routine becomes stale. The editing of the mirror reflections and closeups do offer a claustrophobic mindset and that is an element I did like, the gritty rough look of the film. This tacky little bathroom stall that the character was trapped in, though there isn’t much narratively to go beyond that as the issue is there’s no clear visual marker on what ails the protagonist. He looks fine after the first time he uses the product, and there is never any discernible difference after any use, so what exactly is he chasing?


My questions from before were broad strokes at what Singha could be hinting at, but insecurity about one’s physical appearance is a factor in using beauty products. The tacked-on commercial product voiceover at the end seems like a confirmation of the character’s motivation. This doesn’t make Face Wash interesting, however as Singha’s attempt to create a psychological thriller tone falls flat. That and the completely underwhelming almost comical ending just has one shrug in indifference feeling that their time has been wasted.

 

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