Romanian #shortfilm The Seagull is a thoughtful and contemplative piece on the fragility of life and a wonderful addition to the 2018 Berlin Liberi Film Festival lineup. From directors Maria Popistasu and Alexandru Baciu, it's a film that engulfs itself with the human tendency to avoid emotional vulnerability.
Maria Popistasu plays Laura, a caring and dutiful daughter who struggles to communicate with her father (Alexandru Dabija) about his ill health. Fortunately, the pair are giving plenty of conversation by the seagull who has trapped himself on the window, and whom the two hope to nurture back to help.
Told with no score, minimal editing, and lots of mid-range static shots, The Seagull is a #shortfilm that blends its style well into the themes of the story. Without the classic emotive trappings of cinema, the characters are left bare on the screen, allowing what's not being said to have maximum volume and therefore impact on the audience. The often banal mutterings of Laura and her dad about what they should do with the injured animal become like whirring cogs as the machinery of their relationship prepares to fully engage with the actual situation. This is then compounded in a spectacular car sequence where Laura talks to her dad following his latest visit to the doctor.
Anyone who has experienced a serious health issue within their family will most likely be aware of the strange combination of comedy and sadness that arises when we are forced to contemplate our own or someone we love's mortality. The #filmmakers here do this splendidly, allowing the humorous lines to land without any frills or dressing and instead lending a good degree of authenticity to the narrative. This is the kind of exchange huge amounts of viewers are likely to be able to relate to.
The performances are terrific once you submerge yourself into the tone and atmosphere of The Seagull. Small, almost tiny moments of intimacy can be located amongst the plethora of distance. From Popistasu's incredible reactions in the car, to Dabija's pacing, audiences will be able to connect with these characters even with the seemingly impersonal nature which is so vital to the storyline. Both performers are very convincing and engaging.