Directed by: #PritankoGhatak
Written by: #PritankoGhatak
Historically, society hasn’t been kind to women. There are certain expectations that women must adhere to. We must act and look a particular way. In some areas of the world, these unspoken rules cause detrimental consequences if they are broken, and in other countries, they result in an eyebrow-raised stare. Pritanko Ghatak’s short film Flawless repeats these themes like a broken record.
Three girls know that they don’t fit in. Their perceived flaws are cruelly pointed out by strangers. One has cut and coloured her hair into a bob, another hides her buzz cut with a beanie, and the third has been bullied because of her darker skin. Beauty is only skin deep, and so is this film’s exploration of these issues. Ridiculous beauty standards are known to cause detrimental effects in young girls. While Flawless attempts to address the serious nature of these issues, the end of the film is a Disneyfied, sweet conclusion that puts a plaster over the gaping wound caused by society’s ridiculous expectations on women.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the conclusion that all the girls are normal isn’t exactly a revolutionary, eye-opening or even comforting statement. Fortunately, some rare glimpses of depth fight to take this issue from a superficial statement to a comment on self-esteem. The girl with the buzz cut bemoans that people fuss her with false intentions and fake sympathy, notions which probe further than the skin-deep bullying. Maybe, if the short was longer than its two minute and forty-second runtime, there would have been time to interrogate these expectations that have wriggled under women’s skin like parasites.
Despite all the threads of an interesting commentary, the self-esteem issues aren’t really explored any further. The focus on the characters is wildly inconsistent. One girl has self-esteem issues, rings her mum and contemplates dropping out of school. While she is the most fleshed-out of the three girls, the other two seem like random additions to create a friendship group with the perfect number.
The footage has the texture of rough stone and tones of khakis and olive greens, creating a dark mood which is perfect for the theme of social ostracisation. Yet, even this consistency is harshly disrupted with a scene that recalls back to 70s horror flicks. The earlier tone captured the realities of feeling like you’re living on the outskirts of society well, but the switch in tone does Flawless no favours.
Flawless is too brief to grapple with topics such as societal acceptance and social pressures with dexterity. While the message that everyone is normal is somewhat uplifting, it is reduced to an airbrushed, surface-level commentary.