Directed by Molly Ratermann
Starring Molly Ratermann, Kenna Wright, Valerie Weak, & Katherine Celio
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
An ode to teenage angst, Suicide, directed by Molly Ratermann, is not your typical coming-of-age short film. This is a comedy of quirkiness that pokes fun in all the right places whilst making some stark and intelligent jabs at the meaning of life.
Set predominantly in the desert, two American teenagers journey across the sand dunes in search of the perfect place for one of them to commit the titular suicide. Carson (Molly Ratermann) is a troubled teenager, but not in the traditional emo sense, more in a light-hearted, bubbly kind of way; determined to kill herself but far from being particularly morose about it. Over the course of 28 minutes we learn about her attitude towards life’s pointlessness, that she attempted to kill herself six times over the last year, and that her suicidal tendencies are so ingrained in her lifestyle that nearly every decision she makes is with them in mind. After counselling from Dr. Wolf (Katherine Celio), and far from effective questioning from her mother (Valerie Weak), Carson manages to convince her BFF Franny (Kenna Wright) to join her on her desert death odyssey, much to the chagrin of all those around her.
Whilst much of the script and themes of Ratermann’s film are bleak to the point of nihilism, the tone and aesthetic is the exact opposite. Lighthearted music accompanies the vibrant visuals, with the short film taking on a road-trip vibe, whilst the two main characters enjoy plenty of banter and social media references. This conflicting tone which runs at odds with the message of the story is a marvellous way of highlighting the seriousness of it. Grave stories about depression and suicide can often be a grim ordeal for viewers, and whilst compelling in their own right, a movie like Suicide dares to be glib and facetious about the subject matter which allows the story to not only be thought-provoking and compelling, but also entertaining.
Carson is a fascinating character, brought to life by Ratermann’s enigmatic performance, as well as her writing, with a slightly Juno-esque contempt for the mundane. Her fickleness about small details makes her completely human and believable, and the journey she goes on literally and spiritually is the real core of the movie. There is a emotional depth which audiences may not be be suspecting, given the initial tone of the film. Wright offers a worthy portrayal as the desperate friend trying to convince Carson of her dangerous folly, adding a much needed grounding to the short to offset the more ludicrous elements.
Some of the cinematography is beautiful, especially the desert landscapes which are breathtaking. The isolation of these sequences is the perfect complement to Carson’s character, whilst adding a heightened sense of threat. There was also a lovely moment when the two characters are walking towards the camera and the sun glare makes a perfect circle on the screen; a visually sumptuous moment that viewers should enjoy.
Aside from a few throwaway lines of dialogue that failed to hit their comedic mark, Ratterman’s short film Suicide is a genuinely entertaining and funny story that is as bold as it is intelligent.
More Film Reviews here.