Directed by Cris John David Manero
Starring Eduard Trumata, Claire Castillon, David Shem Calida,
Short Film Review by Evie Brudenall
Teenage years are often the most confusing, turbulent, distressing and wonderful of a person’s life and writer/director Cris John David Manero’s short film Vorfreude attempts to snapshot all of these emotions in a story presents many questions.
Claire, David and Ed are three teenagers, all with deep insecurities and the desire for validation from their peers – and even from themselves. As they wrestle with these intense and complicated emotions, their lives intertwine on their journeys to self acceptance.
Firstly, Claire wonders through voice-over (all character thoughts are expressed exclusively by voice-over narration) what it would be like to love a life where she wasn’t reliant upon crutches. Shot in a vignette style, we see Claire running freely and cycling through the park as he inner most dreams are realised on screen. Her classmates cruelly mock her condition and she is rendered an outcast. Meanwhile, David has found himself on the undesirable end of unrequited love and Ed is experiencing a quarter life crisis; he didn’t achieve Valedictorian status, thus falling short of the high expectations he had of himself. His perceived failure leads Ed down a dark and suicidal path and he attempts to take his own life.
However, Ed’s attempt is seemingly unsuccessful and he finds himself washed up on the shore, although he seems no closer to clarity as he resolves to cause harm to Claire, who secured the honour of Valedictorian over him, so she cannot deliver her speech at the ceremony – if he can’t have the title, no one can. Before he can enact his plan, Claire is hit by a passing motorcycle and Ed has a change of heart, making the decision to save her. Eventually, he meets David who has been battered and bruised by his father after he discovered his son’s sexuality. It’s at this point that the three separate narrative strands finally coalesce and our three characters who drive the story cross paths. However, their union seems clumsily pulled together, as do other elements of Vorfreude. During several scenes, there are heavy implications of the supernatural which is never explicitly confirmed and the poetic dialogue only exacerbates the ambiguity in addition to the abrupt music fades and fades to black that acts as distinctions between the three characters’ storylines.
Ultimately, Vorfreude’s ambitious three-hander is supported by interesting ideas and adequate performances but suffers at the hands of its inability to convey an understandable narrative and deliver a logical conclusion.