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Midlands Review of Asphyxiate

By midlandsmovies, Apr 18 2020 09:28AM


Directed by Nicole Pott


Sonder Pictures

A woman slowly descends into a bathtub in the dark opening that starts new drama Asphyxiate from Midlands director Nicole Pott.

Followed by a violently physical sexual assault scene, the director pulls no punches to draw you into a world of deception, love and passions.

The opening sequence is one of the best I’ve seen in a local short. David Fincher style blue lighting from cinematographer Hamish Saks and an amazing transition from above to below the bath water line was a stunning introduction.

We then arrive at a dinner date between Katie (Michaela Longden, who is also the writer of the short) and Tom (Anthony Quinlan). But their loving meet-up is punctuated by edits cutting back to a darker part of their relationship.

The man stands over the woman in a dangerous home scenario of threatening words and intimidating physical contact before we’re whisked back in time to a bar as the two friendly discuss love and life.

The contrast between the two situations, past and present, is a powerful structure showing how a bond between two people can turn into a degrading spiral of harassment and torment.

Forced apologies and psychological attempts to gain sympathy sit alongside flashback scenes that slowly reveal how the seeds of this controlling behaviour were sown.

The film continues to capture the traits of male perpetrators as Katie is pushed further into isolation and her communication monitored. It also shows how an unsafe environment is created over time. Ultimatums to end the relationship soon build and build and end in threats, bullying and finally physical harm.

Pott uses juxtaposition of the actors’ proximity, dialogue and visuals brilliantly to highlight these issues. And it makes the short an excellent exploration of very serious themes about losing oneself and drowning in verbal and intimidating attacks.

Asphyxiate is uncompromising in its representation of domestic violence. However, this is crucial to sufficiently highlight the awful situation far too many women can find themselves in. With spectacular cinematic style, the short comes highly recommended, as it looks at the catastrophic outcomes of a toxic relationship in an exceptionally well-crafted film.

Michael Sales

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