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average rating is 4 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Mar 27, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Chryssanthi Kouri
Written by:
Chryssanthi Kouri
Youlika Skafida, Evangelia Adreadaki

Greek short drama Dustlight from writer/director Chryssanthi Kouri tells the story of Matina (Skafida), who arrives at the family summer house following the passing of her late mother to reflect and clear out her things while also attempting to come to terms with her immense loss and grief.


Dustlight is a subtle film that respectfully focuses on the almost palpable heavy emotion of loss rather than trying to create any high drama from it. For some, the film might feel a little subdued and lingering, but by making that narrative choice, Kouri has given real authenticity and respect to not just a very touching story, but to a very universal part of the human experience.


When we meet Matina her life is at something of a crossroads, suggestions of a stalled career and perhaps a failed past relationship are the only very subtle hints given as to who Matina is. But here, who she is as a person isn’t really relevant in the grand scheme of things, Kouri is more interested in showing what grief can do to all of us, regardless of anything else, which in turns makes for a highly commendable film that bravely does well to maintain its resolve in telling the story it wants to tell the way it wants to tell it.


Kouri has a clear adroitness not just for emotive but also visual storytelling. There are a lot of powerful, well placed visual metaphors at play here, where all throughout the film but especially in the film’s opening and closing sequences (where light is seen to be piercing the literal darkness) the film’s clever use of light and dark speaks to a greater overall message of finding hope in despair. And in between those two endpoints which mirror each other brilliantly, through both Kouri’s skilful writing and a very controlled and emotive performance from Skafida, we are invited to follow Matina on her touching journey through each stage of grief along the way.


And these well-crafted in-between moments are all part of what, at the end of it all, makes us fully feel the emotion and connection to Kouri’s story that we need to for it all to work. Matina is initially lacking in any real motivation to face the situation at all, instead opting to lie around the house in a general sense of apathy to everyone and everything, until the film begins to move on from that denial phase through towards acceptance, giving appropriate time and respect to the rest of the process along the way. Particular highlights that really exemplify this include a scene where Matina upon looking through her mother’s clothes, finds herself overtaken by the need to smell them all in one last desperate attempt to remember her, her grief finally becoming fully realised in that moment and subsequently released before finally embracing acceptance, a brilliantly poignant moment that because of how well the film does in the build-up to that moment, we feel in spades.


Dustlight is a simple but elegantly told, universally understood story that many will enjoy and many more will find comfort in.

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Short Film
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