9 Feb 2022
Tegan Armstrong, Dylan Duff, Brianna Russell
Brianna Russell & Dylan Duff
Raffa Virago, Iyin Ajagunna
What happens when one’s desire to love is so strong that it becomes wrapped up in one’s desire to be loved? It causes an inner conflict that cannot be solved simply by being loved by another. Powdered Dandelions explores this complicated relationship by taking the form of a lyrical tale in which a girl (Raffa Virago) crafts a love potion so that Other (Iyin Ajagunna) may fall in love with her.
The story of Powdered Dandelions hangs in the balance between reality and fiction. If the girl uses a potion to make Other fall in love with her, how can she accept that manufactured love? The film intercuts between two different time periods or realities; one before Other has taken the potion, and then one after she has. The directors use strong visual characteristics to create a definitive divide between the ‘before’ and ‘after’, largely through the use of colour and aspect ratio. The widescreen ‘before’ reality is populated with teal and azure blues despite being set in a suburban area and the surrounding woodland. This sets the girl’s world as off-kilter, even her more objective reality is not quite in line with the real world. This contrasts with the boxy 4:3 ratio and apricot hues of the ‘after’ sequences. The soft silhouettes found on this side lend a sense of mysticism and forbidden beauty. Then when the film moves towards its climax the two realities collide and the colours meet violently. The blues and oranges might pair naturally but they do not mix, they separate like oil and water.
The focus for almost every second of the seven-minute run time, Virago displays that she is a real screen talent. Her naturalistic performance gives her character a sense of genuine pathos. She does well to navigate some particularly direct dialogue and make it feel not only earnest but heart-breaking.
The discussion of self-esteem as an obstacle in the path of love is something that is not uncommon in popular culture. The reality TV show Catfish is founded on the idea that the people who form secondary online identities as a proxy do so because they are not comfortable with who they are in real life. Whilst Powdered Dandelions may not have the same ethical quandaries as Catfish the popularity of this theme with younger adults forms an interesting and concerning cultural marker for where we are as a society.
A well-crafted visual style and an excellent performance from Virago make Powdered Dandelions a heartfelt and moving short that effectively drills down into the public consciousness.