Sep 18, 2022
Kathryne Isabelle Easton
Kathryne Isabelle Easton
Kathryne Isabelle Easton, Anthony Goes
We all have our own experiences of the pandemic. Our own memories. Our own traumas. No matter your whereabouts in the world, no matter your financial situation, and no matter the level of your health, everyone endured a level of hardship over those painful two years. Some are still going through that to this day.
‘Borrelia Borealis’ is just one of a number of films made during the pandemic and set during that traumatic time, making use of fruitful story opportunities and limited filming capacity. Most of these films are, in the nicest possible way, simply not that good. They suffer from abject writing and a lack of distinction between each other to the point where they all blend into one after seeing just a few. ‘Borrelia Borealis’ subverts these standards, and goes far beyond your standard ‘pandemic film’, all without ever doing anything particularly special.
If the pandemic was hard on people with no health conditions, one can only imagine how much more difficult it must have been for those with conditions such as Lyme disease. That’s the disease which gives the film the first half of its name - ‘borrelia’ is the primary bacteria that causes the disease, usually by a tick bite - as the film makes sure to point out. It’s also the disease that the film's central character Beth (Kathryne Isabelle Easton) suffers from, and has suffered from since the age of 10, though that is barely scratching the surface of her trauma.
Beth is initially far too overbearing, and hyper for us to form any meaningful connection to - she first comes across as rude and intoxicating. However, as we see her bond with Eddie (Anthony Goes) - a suave, sweater-wearing fisherman’ over a series of video calls, and we discover more about her distressing past, we begin to empathise with her. Helmed by a powerful performance by Easton, we see Beth transition from an Amy Schumer character to an Anna Kendrick character, from overly loud and obnoxious, to overly loud but charming.
Easton also wrote and directed the film, to varying degrees of success. The writing doesn’t quite hold itself to the same standards as her performance - she ironically gives herself more work to do in the acting department due to some clunky dialogue - and at a certain stage it begins to feel like trauma-baiting, going way overboard in exploring the depths of hardships one person can through. On the flip side, it is Easton’s flashy direction which gives the film the second half of its name - ‘Borealis’ is usually associated with the Northern Lights, and their dreamy-like quality takes shape in some of the more psychedelic montages in this tale of unexpected love.
Perhaps it’s merely because of the other turgid films in this already tired genre that ‘Borrelia Borealis’ strikes a chord. It is by no means a perfect film, it may not even be a very good one, but it still manages to pry at that little patch on the heart - the part which swoons at melodramatic romance, the part which doesn’t listen to the brain’s weary complaints, the part which we can’t understand. And in a way that figures with everyone’s own perspective of the pandemic - we won’t ever understand some of the things we did during that time, and that might just be for the best.