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VIA[DOLO] short film review

★★★

Directed by: #DanielKeeble

Written by: Daniel Keeble

Short Film Review by: Corey Bulloch

 
Poster for film showing main character Kirstie, distressed leaning against a wall in an underpass.

It seems just like any other morning, especially for Kirstie as she bursts into the early morning clad in a fishnet top, scruffy pink fur coat and blue bob wig. Chatting away on her phone, Kirstie brags away details about the crazy night before, and we get the sense this is just business as usual. Writer-director Daniel Keeble keeps everything grounded yet gripping, so as the film's surreal elements come into play, VIA[DOLO] doesn’t lose sight of Kirstie’s journey. There is a haunting quality to the environment of VIA[DOLO]; a coastal town at dusk, early fog and fatigue reflected through empty streets. The creeping isolation of Lily Streames’ Kirstie walking home incorporates the eerie aesthetics of liminal space, made more unnerving by her constant accosting by an invisible force.


Keeble’s direction allows interpretation on what Kirstie’s journey exactly represents, but perhaps keeps some elements too vague, as it is difficult to decipher the payoff to the film’s finale. Though Lee Lawrence’s cinematography and Streames performance definitely keep you engaged in the film’s potential meanings. VIA[DOLO] meaning to travel solo but also sounding similar to Via Dolorosa, the path that Christ took to the crucifixion. Kirstie may subconsciously be seeking spiritual reassessment, a forceful wake-up call to her seemingly self-destructive and aimless behaviour. The film has no explicit religious imagery but Kirstie’s walk finds herself confronted by an invisible force and mysterious figures, whether they be figures from her past or other lost souls is not made clear.


VIA[DOLO]’s main strength through Keeble’s script is having every element no matter its narrative clarity be immersive and rife with interpretation. The scene of Kirstie meeting the other characters in the alleyway is probably is an excellent example of how layered Keeble and company craft the film. Visual treats of costume design, two of the figures being twins, the moment of eye contact between Kirstie and a tall imposing man named Stayne along with Joseph Caroll’s dialogue on how Kirstie needs ‘saving’ just enriches the audience's imagination. I personally saw VIA[DOLO] as a story of lost souls who encounter Kirstie by chance and regard her state with curiosity and pity especially through Josephine Melville’s dialogue stating Kirstie won’t find salvation where they are.


Keeble seems to put down all the pieces and asks the audience to put together the puzzle as they see it, certainly not a bad method to engage with the film. Upon rewatches I saw scenes in a different light, building upon my interpretations and it only increased my appreciation for the fine work of the cast and crew. VIA[DOLO] is a gorgeous film through Lee Lawrence’s camera work especially in its establishing shots and the final scene on the beach. Though the film can’t escape the feeling that a piece or two is missing as the certainty that Kirstie finds in the ending can’t be shared with the audience as the film tries to recontextualize the events in a manner that only leaves one scratching their head. Though the confusing nature doesn’t dilute the overall effect of a compelling piece that highlights great talents in Keeble, Lawrence, Streames and the whole crew.


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