Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Free of Thought

Kitchen-Sink Drama

Nathan Barillaro follows up his excellent first feature Metaffliction (viewable at NoBudge here) with this 2015 portrait of the dissolution of a relationship between two Melbourne twenty-somethings (played by John Russell and Mella Gardner). In a few senses, it's "the same old story": the relationship-film ad absurdum: endless depressed bumming around the house, fighting over dirty dishes, arguments aggravated by altered states, languid slow-burn sketching out the couple's dynamic until the moment things turn pear-shaped because the white male is one more insensitive deadbeat in indie cinema's long line of same. The girlfriend Gardner is two to three levels above the loser BF Russell, but they've moved in together, and she's not repulsed by his lips on her body. In other words, it's exactly like real life; Barillaro's movie is nothing if not an exasperating-because-true depiction of the usual toxic-couple routine. The film plays out in 1 hour and 34 minutes of short, sometimes perfunctory scenes whose sum powers the parts. Free of Thought chronicles the distinct privilege of individuals given free range to treat one another, and themselves in the process, like animals.

"Human beings are built to communicate."


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