Lost for Words Short Film Review

★★★

Directed by: #ElcidAsaei

Written by: #ElcidAsaei

Starring: #LynaDubarry #SandieVonBrockdorff

Film Review by: Huw Buckley


Lost for Words (2020), written and directed by short filmmaker Elcid Asaei, offers us a light-hearted take on the break-up process and is packed with amusing moments, though it never feels too churlish. Indeed, the film takes the topic seriously enough to make some insightful observations about the toxicity and power dynamics that can often plague our most intimate relationships.

The film (clocking in swiftly at around the five-minute mark), charts the journey of its two lead characters Nadia and Victoria (played smartly by Lyna Dubarry and Sandie Von Brockdorff respectively), who are due to meet up for the first time since their break-up. The film mostly charts their separate journeys through an unnamed forest, to reach an agreed upon meeting point. Throughout, internal dialogue gives us some insight into each character’s state of mind and, most importantly, how they regard each other.

The language deployed is deliberately pompous and overdramatic, Victoria even taking a pseudo-Shakespearean turn during one particularly amusing sequence. Asaei seems to be making a mockery of our absurd levels of self-importance, which are liable to elevate further as a result of those moments we deem to be life-altering. There is a shedload of self-denial and ego involved, and neither character seems aware of their own shortcomings. Instead, they pin their unhappiness and discontent on each other. There’s a savagery to the humour at times, especially on Victoria’s part, who compares Nadia to both a fish and a peacock.

Each character seems to focus intensely on the shortcomings of the other, and such a negative attitude, funny or not, makes the characters somewhat difficult to like. They don’t present as nice people. But this is seemingly the point, we are getting an insight into how they view each other, which is to say, not in a positive light. The reason they appear petty, vindictive, spiteful, is because they are struggling; we’re seeing them at their lowest ebb. This works from both a dramatic perspective and a comedic one too, because there’s nothing funnier, nor more conducive to drama, than people that hopelessly fall short of expectations; feel out of their depth; or who find themselves racked with negative emotion.

Towards the film’s conclusion, the laughs suddenly stop however, as a gut-wrenching window into the past highlights the unhappy nature of the former relationship. Snippets of conversations from the past showcase a distinct lack of empathy on the part of both characters, disputes rife with remonstrations and accusations. The darker side of the break-up process is highlighted in rather sobering fashion. The film then ends on a bittersweet note, which suits the wider feel of the film. At once it can be hilarious and moving.

It’s an excellent exercise in short filmmaking and is sure to capture the imagination in its short run-time. There's a particularly nice touch in the costume design, with Nadia and Victoria both wearing yellow and sporting blue eye shadow; perhaps a metaphor for how they will have left an indelible mark on each other as a result of the relationship, for better and for worse. This attention to detail benefits other aspects of the production, such as the cinematography and editing and perhaps points to Asaei's extensive experience as a short filmmaker over the course of the past decade. This is yet another convincing effort from a writer-director who never fails to impress.

#HuwBuckley