Directed by: #SousidehChaterjee
Passport, directed by Sousideh Chaterjee, tells the story of a man preparing to travel to Moscow from India. It seems his partner is not too fond of the idea, as she then spends the majority of the film lounging in self-pity - ignoring a various amount of phone calls as she prepares to attend the annual Hindu festival, Durga Puja alone.
It’s hard to know what to say when you first see it. Let me rephrase that: It’s hard to quantify just how painstakingly bad it is.
There’s an eerie sense of confusion when the credits roll: ‘hang on… did I miss something’? ‘Nothing happened’. And perhaps I did miss something. Perhaps the message or the narrative arc is so poker-faced, that it sailed over my head. But to be honest, if such adroit subtlety exists within the film, I have no interest in finding the needle in the haystack. At best, Passport is self-indulgent; at worst, it lacks any purpose.
It’s poorly manufactured, also. Edits are as jarring as one imagines the Titanic hitting the iceberg was - good editing is always seamless and unnoticeable; the use of voice-overs left me confused and took me out of the scene, and certain sequences have no business being there. For 51 seconds the audience are bored to tears watching someone getting ready in a mirror and for a further 41 seconds, we see the same person doodling on a mirror with toothpaste (whoops, I should have said ‘spoiler alert’). Both sequences are irrelevant and wearisome and made all the more problematic by the short seven minute runtime. The fact that I went back to exactly determine the lengths of these sequences acts in itself as an indictment of this short.
Saihat Chattopadhyay’s score is interesting, and does a nice job at complimenting the tone of the film, although I wonder if my fondness for it manifests from a general affection I have of the music from that culture.
Otherwise, there are absolutely no original or thought-provoking techniques used and technically, it’s a mess. For seven minutes, the audience are essentially being asked to indulge the filmmakers like you would a child when they paint you a picture. If this is a funding or production issue, Chaterjee needed to overcome these obstacles by coming up with innovative and brave ideas and making sure they did the best they could with limited resources. As it happens, the whole film plays it safe and is sloppy doing it.