Written and directed by #ElizaHittman
Eliza Hittman’s short film Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and prompted excitable interest in her raw and realistic filmmaking style. Since then, Hittman has gone onto direct three feature films, including this year’s critically acclaimed Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020). Both Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight and her latest feature explore teenage girls coming of age and issues surrounding consent.
Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight follows a seventeen year old Russian teenager called Sonya, played by Viktoria Vinyarska, who lives with her father in a cramped and claustrophobic flat in Brooklyn. Her father owns an ever-growing collection of cats, and their landlady is threatening to evict them if they don’t get rid of them. Longing for an escape from the confines of her situation, she goes out for the night with her friend Sveta, played by Nina Medvinskaya, where they partake in dancing and drinking with who they meet in a club. However, Sonya’s actions lead to her friend being put in a position of vulnerability.
Taking its title from Bonnie Tyler’s classic anthem “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, music becomes an essential part of Sonya’s escape from her everyday life, whether it’s through her headphones to get away from her mundane everyday routine or in the club at night. The remix of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” played in the club is pounding in the background in a disorientating way, helping Sonya to forget and distance herself from her issues at home. Intimate camera shots and close ups feature heavily throughout Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight, with Hittman’s direction forcing the viewer to feel up close and personal with the action. There is no distance for the viewer, as during the clubbing scene and the subsequent sexual encounters that follow, close ups are used to heighten discomfort and evoke a sinister tension.
Overall, Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight feels real as it captures the youthful quality of escaping reality, making mistakes and going along for the ride no matter what happens. However, Sonya’s living situation and her father’s ever growing collection of cats frames the narrative of her escape into the nightlife of Brooklyn, yet these two strands of storytelling feel slightly disconnected from one another. As Hittman’s style remains patient and slow at times to reinforce a sense of realism, and to allow the viewer to connect more closely, this short further highlights how Hittman works best with a longer running time.
Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight is now streaming on YouTube as part of We Are One: A Global Film Festival