Directed and written by #GigiHozimah
Tackling any kind of metal health issues is difficult and especially when you cast a light on the internal struggle and thought processes that occur. And with this constant battle sometimes comes the even more difficult issues of existentialism, and portraying this on the screen can be a hopeless or grey experience. Writer/director #GigiHozimah takes on this challenge and while her film That Abandoned Place has some striking imagery and a very invested central performance, the very nature of the subject matter does reflect in the final product, which - personally - made this a very unenjoyable experience for this writer for a number of personal reasons. However, that is not to say that this is not a film that has some very difficult dialogues to address and challenging themes to think on.
The film stars #JennyHutton as April, a young woman taken on her existential journey, after an attempted suicide has her break down and think about life in ways that are new, illuminating and frightening.
The slow pace and visual direction may not be suited to some tastes, as indeed may the long stretches of grave subject matter and endurance-testing hopelessness, as life’s challenges surround, overwhelm and drown the lead at many points. In fact, even the final note, which offers some comfort, may still not quite offer the lifeline some viewers are hoping for. But, #GigiHozimah’s film is a realistic depiction of how the mind can work under such times of challenge. That Abandoned Place pulls you into it’s sometimes uncomfortable thought process and shows how love, art and companionship cannot always offer the redemption at the time but can perhaps be the key to ensuring that life goes on and we can find a solution, as we find a reason to live rather than a reason to die.
Hutton convinces entirely in the lead role and even when the film seems to linger far too long on particular imagery (though it looks consistently good thanks to #ReneCastillanos’ cinematography), her humanity shines through. Even as her soul is being tortured by the love (#JamesParenti offers strong support as her loving partner Artem), loss and ideology of living, you will her character forward and hope for a satisfying moment for her.
To what extent that comes is kind of up to your reading but That Abandoned Place is rather brave to go into the mind like it does and must be commended for how effectively and honestly it does so. I may not be able to say I “enjoyed” it but I recognised it (a heck of a lot more than one should) and Hozimah has countless important things to say in this work, which may reach a number of people. Admittedly it can feel very lyrically fanciful and maybe a tad too artsy at points but is a strong emotional piece of film, which maybe would have made for a far better structured short than feature but which still is a piece of work that touches (or rather pinpoints) seriously important subjects, affecting many lives.