Written and Directed by Steven Adam Renkovish
Starring Brittany Renée Smith
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
A psychologically introspective story about a woman's (Brittany Renée Smith) fugue state following the loss of someone she loves, Steven Adam Renkovish's short film is a visually impactful piece that becomes a victim of its own lack of identity.
Fugue is a psychological condition that often combines two signature symptoms. One is memory loss, and the other is a change of environment - I.e. turning up somewhere you don't normally. Renée Smith's character is certainly experiencing some kind of hallucinatory effect from her grief, which is brilliantly depicted in the stark visual landscape of the film. Her hysteria is then reinforced with dramatic monologues to the camera being spliced with all manner of editing tricks and artistic expression. The result is an impressive collage of cinematic flair that is indeed compelling.
Where Fugue falls down most notably is in the melodramatic lead (and only) performance and amateurish dialogue. The sequences to camera are mysterious in a childish way, offering no real depth or resolution, and seem concocted only to excuse the baffling array of set pieces that are loosely tied together. As a genre, any film depicting psychological stories about memory loss are always given some room for slack when it comes to structural conventions, but here Fugue trades the basic elements of storytelling in exchange for obscurity, madness, and tedium.
Only by the final frames is any sense of real intrigue piqued, but by then the effect is completely impotent. There was not enough coherence between the various elements of the filmmaking to make this the powerful short film it could have been. A physical example of this is the sound editing. Renée Smith is often barely audible compared to the booming musical score, a sound design which contained way too many cliched "horror" effects.
As a piece of artistic expression, Renkovish displays some fantastic chops. His visual communication is superbly compelling, something which I would greatly like to see more of. This sadly gets sidelined by a mediocre storyline, an average central performance, and some poorly executed technicals that undermine the obvious potential which is there.