Hothead short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #RokasMakutunovicius

Written by: #RokasMakutunovicius

Starring: #AnetaMakaviciute #AntanasSurgailis

Film review by William Hemingway



Hothead film poster

Živile (Makaviciute) is ready to party. She's got on her best faux fur, applied her deepest red lipstick and has got her dad to give her a lift. She's a bit of a Hothead; strong willed, determined and able to get what she wants; but sometimes that can lead her into trouble. Outside the party her dad (Surgailis) gives her the option to blow it all off and head back with him for a safe, quiet night but Živile isn't interested in that, so she heads inside and sets in motion a series of events that could change her life forever.

Cut to early the next day and Živile, still in her bright red fur and party clothes, is waiting to get into a clinic where she can get some blood tests done. She relates the previous night's events to the young man behind the desk and we follow her movements in flashback as she reveals what went on behind closed doors. It seems that Živile was out to have more than just a simple good time and in the end got snared by someone who wanted to get his own back on her.

What follows is then a desperate attempt by Živile to bypass procedures, right any wrongs she may have committed, rub out her mistakes, and in any sense possible turn back time on the whole affair; if only she had stopped to think about what she was doing in the first place.

Rokas Makutunovicius would like us to stop and think too, as we watch his short film, Hothead. He has deliberately chopped up the narrative and placed sequences out of order so that we have to piece together Živile's story ourselves. Bit by bit we get a better understanding of who Živile is and what has befallen her, not just in this timeline, but in previous ones too, though not everything is revealed explicitly. After the first viewing not everything may be clear to the audience, perhaps not even after the second or the third, but gradually the story pieces together and we find that Makutunovicius has taken us on a journey to the heart of his main character.

Živile herself is embodied emphatically by Aneta Makaviciute, whose screen presence demands your attention and admiration. In her performance there are more than shades of Joanna Kulig in Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War, where despite the leading lady's flaws you can't help but always want the best for her. The rest of the production, too, also owes a lot to Polish cinema, especially that of Krzysztof Kieslowski, where the direction and cinematography expertly lay out the details of individual lives and roles as they all become intimately connected with one another, and shows it off with a colour palette straight out of Three Colours: Red. The post-industrialist electrosynth soundtrack also broods with deep meaning as the narrative plays out, keeping the viewer ensconced in a post-Soviet era feel.

Makutunovicius, being a student of the Skalvija Film Academy in Vilnius, Lithuania, presented Hothead as his end of year submission. The prompt for this particular year's submissions was on the theme of “Changed My Mind”, which may help explain some of what's going on to the viewer, especially in the final scene. Regardless of how easily accessible you find Hothead to be, it is obvious that Makutunovicius has a keen eye for direction and a real talent for narrative structure. If this is the kind of film he is able to make during his time in film academy, he will surely be one to watch out for in the years to come.