Directed by: #MarieVandelannoote
Written by: Marie Vandelannoote
Funeral (Funerailles) short film review
French short film Funerailles aka Funeral from #filmmaker Marie Vandelannoote is a meditation on life, death, and family that grapples with grief and guilt terrifically.
Starring Damien Boisseau, Stefen Eynius, Anne-Laure Gruet, and Anne-Hélène Orvelin as siblings at the wake of their brother, who has recently taken his own life with pills. As the brothers and sisters reminisce about their fallen brother, secrets and shame emerge as their grieving process unfolds before the eyes of the audience and we pay witness and tribute to a lost soul.
Told with a minimalist design and simple #filmmaking approach, short film Funeral leans heavily on its cast and dramatic themes rather than any overly stylish camera work or special effects. Aside from a brief drinking montage, the camera mostly swoops from one side of the screen to the other, as the characters regale the viewer with anecdotes and transgressions. The atmosphere is palpably anxious, with a familial tension layering most sequences and characters migrating from joy to anguish in a heartbeat.
Anne-Hélène Orvelin, who plays one of the sisters, is a standout for this emotional fluctuation in her performance. In a post-alcohol outburst she switches from hysterical laughter to complete misery beautifully. Anne-Laure Gruet is also splendid as the angered and slightly judgmental sibling.
Movies that attempt to explore themes such as grief and mourning are often guilty of rushing the process and going too heavy in one direction, or even focusing more acutely on the narrative distraction (such as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). With Funeral, director Marie Vandelannoote is unafraid to stay in the moment and allow the pain of the scene to linger. The only let up from the tension is the aforementioned drinking montage but this was necessary to permit a looser and more emotionally honest second half of the movie. All of the dialogue is honed to inhabit the personal intimacy that losing a loved one can cause and the silver-lining bonding that can occur through tragedy.
The role of religion within the piece is also noticeable. Several references to God, heaven, and hell are made and the fact that the man took his own life is heavily remarked upon in the opening section. This deliberation between good and bad is an important aspect to the story, with the death of their brother acting as the catalyst, a time for reflection is enabled and each character begins to inspect the actions of each other but also their own selfish involvement.
Dramatically performed and bearing all manner of life's enduring quandaries, Funeral is a profound examination of the fallout from someone's passing. The repercussions and personal reverberations are compellingly explored by a talented cast and skillful director.