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Midlands Review - Duality

By midlandsmovies, May 6 2018 06:05PM

Duality (2018)

Directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz

New psychological thriller short Duality is the latest film from Sheikh Shahnawaz and delivers a powerful message about a woman who develops a split personality after years of abuse.

Sheikh’s first film Witness was a Tarantino-infused crime short (review here) but Duality heads in a darker direction with shocking scenes of emotional torment set amongst the drama. And shot in just one day in and around Birmingham, the filmmaker again makes the most of the region by utilising the talent of local Midlands based actors.

Duality opens on an upsetting non-consensual sexual encounter which throws the audience directly into the cruel relationship between our lead Sharni Tapako-Brown as Vanessa, and her husband Simon, played by Nisaro Karim.

Conjuring up an imagined alter-ego twin, Sharni in fact plays two roles here, both as the oppressed wife and her more self-assured double/alter-ego who questions her reasons for putting up and staying with Simon.

Whilst the idea of her conscience appearing as a mirrored vision of herself is somewhat a flight of imagination, the film tackles its domestic violence themes with upmost seriousness and believability. Sheikh has infused his drama with ideas of isolation –Vanessa's twin questions whether it is her or Simon keeping her away from her friends – and verbal as well as physical manipulation.

Empty apologies from Simon are accepted in real life but her conscience reminds her that this is repeated behaviour which he does “every time”. And as Simon goes out with his mates and claims not just the house as his own but his partner is too – “my woman” – the well written and refined script gives the character a possessive nature which is played very well by Karim.

The two leads do fantastic work with the material and the script covers all aspects of abuse from name-calling, physical control, domination and cruelty. And the subtle delivery of calm, but ultimately vicious, language gives the piece even more power with its understated approach.

The film shifts tone towards the end as our protagonist infuses herself with the confidence of her conscience but we are left with a cliffhanger as to what her next step is to be. Revenge on her perpetrator is heavily hinted upon and we leave the story as the tables are about to turn.

For me, Duality ends up being an even better film than Sheikh’s previous efforts with both reality and fantasy coming together in a script that is intelligent, sensitive but also convincing with its well-researched concepts. With two fine actors giving forceful and moving performances, Duality is a evocative short film that demonstrates Sheikh Shahnawaz as a unique filmmaking voice.

Midlands Movies Mike

Watch the full short on YouTube below:

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