For I Am Dead
20 May 2022
Patricia Delso Lucas
Patricia Delso Lucas
Al Nazemian, Riggsby Lane, Madeleine Fletcher
Written and directed by Patricia Delso Lucas, For I Am Dead features Oscar, a wealthy middle-aged man, living a life of indulgence but who is dealing with a deep secret that consumes his existence. As Oscar confesses that he is in love with his younger gardener, Jude, his depression and self-disgust overrides this short film as we uncover the unaired desires of a gay man who has been unable to live freely as his true self.
Oscar’s house is vast, pointing to his wealth, but also empty and unforgiving to point to the fact that he must confront his deepest and darkest anxieties. The setting is sparsely decorated and the female characters an afterthought to point to the fact that he feels truly alone. We can see that the excess and indulgence he partakes in has no true meaning to him, as his narration explores how he truly feels about his actions. Loud sounds of chewing and drinking and breathing make each scene very uncomfortable so as to signify a man out of place with his surroundings and the camera is all-consuming and close-up to intimately read his expressions. The viewer is immersed in the action and, like Oscar, we are expected to be revolted.
What becomes realised is that Oscar is trapped in a live of heteronormativity – he is expected to play this part as an affluent man who is passing his ‘prime’ and so must perform. The women he interacts with, however, are overlooked by the camera as they are not his real conquests – but the camera lingers on his interactions with Jude as he is able to express his true self to him. The film is clever in how it questions what it means to have ‘perfect gaze’ – how Oscar questions looking itself and who he should be looking at. His shame of loving Jude and wanting to be with him haunts him as his feelings are connected by a deep shame.
Power dynamic of master and servant is explored within a backdrop of temptation and sin, as Jude invites Oscar to consider the consequences of his desires. The chemistry between the two men is divisive and electric as they confront each other. It is deeply moving, as Oscar cannot truly be happy in the era that he lives and cannot experience a true love let alone a public love. As he talks about ‘earning a good death’, the atmosphere is palpable as he seeks to reconcile how terrible he feels about himself. This is a film that demands the attention of viewers that not everybody is permitted to live as themselves.
For I Am Dead acts as a memoir, or an ode, to the LGBTQ+ community that came before us and the contemporary consequences of living your truth. It is a thoughtful, heartfelt and emotional watch.