Directed by: #SidDuit
Written by: #SidDuit
Writing seems to be a profession that has a knack for driving one crazy. From Hemmingway to Hunter S. Thompson, through to fictional cases like Jack Torrance, there seems to be something about putting words down on paper that overtakes the mind – although at least Hemmingway never chased anyone down with an axe (that we know of). Either way, if you’re going to lose it, you might as well do it somewhere scenic. The atmospheric Triora shows that Northern Italy isn’t a bad place to pick…
Zeno (Dirk Gunther Mohr) is a struggling writer who receives an intriguing offer. He travels to a small Italian town – Triora – to meet his new employer, the enigmatic Livia (Erin Jo Harris). She explains the assignment she has recruited him for and the pair start collaborating. But as he delves into the project further, he starts experiencing strange incidences – all seemingly linked to his new partner. He is faced with a choice of whether to embrace the illusion, or to reject his experiences and seek out the truth.
Triora is a deeply atmospheric and surreal short film that is strong on style but lower on story. The plot is light, and left rather open for the viewer to fill in many of the details for themselves. Given the mysterious theme of the film this easing on the side of the story serves the piece quite nicely, and leaves audiences ruminating on the nature of Zeno’s time in the town. There is enough here plot-wise to keep viewers engaged and on the edge of their seat without being unsatisfied in the end – despite much being left open to interpretation.
The performances from Dirk Gunther Mohr and Erin Jo Harris as Zeno and Livia are charismatic and flowing with chemistry, as the exact natures of each character dances around the other. We experience the film through Zeno’s perspective and therefore see him as an open and honest book – contrasting brilliantly with the unknowable and illusive Livia. The unusual power dynamic between the pair is enough to make up for any plot elements that are lacking.
The film’s real strength (and biggest appeal) is the stunning Italian setting in which it was produced. The medieval town from which the movie takes its name is a beautiful, scenic and calming setting when it is required to be, but able to switch to a haunting and darkly threatening labyrinth as Zeno’s sanity turns against him. The beauty of the film is a testament to the abilities of director Sid Duit and cinematographer Stefan Mandersloot, who make the most of every corner of the town and the rolling hillsides that surround it. Style alone would not have been able to sustain a feature length piece, but the shorter running time allows for the film to thrive on atmosphere first.
Triora is very style-focused, but this should not be taken as a detraction for what is an engaging and mysterious short film for audiences to ponder.