This is a film for students of film; you can leave the popcorn in your other pajamas.
Swift shot: First, I have to admit, the short film is not my normal forte, but when I was offered a chance to screen fellow writer Alyn Darnay’s short independent film, “Conduit”, I was immediately excited. Any time I get a chance to experience something genuine that I know real people put their heart into for something more than a paycheck, it becomes art and not entertainment. “Conduit” is no exception, it was an art film by design and in delivery.
The American audience might find it challenging, because while the film is essentially linear, the art of subtlety is masterfully painted into the film’s fabric. Things won’t immediately fall into place, and you may find yourself frustrated that you actually have to think and pay attention – but that is what really gives the film its power. Your imagination is forced into several spectra in a modicum of time.
From the opening scene, where all the action takes place off screen, you are only allowed to hear the horror that befalls the tragic Susan character, played by Barbie Castro. She sits, alone, in her study with a large pad of paper, a glass of wine and a bowl of sugar cubes to her side. Deep in mortal thought, the age old question, will shrugging off the mortal coil end her suffering or is there more suffering to come?
She sits, thinking, drinking, deep in depressive thought, seemingly eternally alone, fragmented shots of her face reveal the complexity and the fracture to her identity haunting her, the wine is bitter, the cubes of sugar offer no real solace, only pain and despair serve as her drinking companions. She receives a call from her concerned doctor, she missed an appointment and he lets her know that he is coming to see her personally. She manages to feign defense and insists she is fine and is sorry for missing the appointment. The Doctor, later revealed as Marc Durso seems satisfied with her answer and lets her know he won’t take no for an answer again if she fails to show up for the next appointment.
Susan is offered a conduit, a messenger, a second chance to calculate her fatal decision – but who is sending the message?
What I liked about the film is that it was dark in nature yet shot in the day, completely, almost like a contrast that horrible, tragic events certainly take place when everyone else is carrying on their own lives – as another sits, brooding, desperately contemplating ending her life. In that way “Conduit” was like a painting showing a demented image of something that should be beautiful, here in wonderfully sunny South Florida on a calm, warm day mortality dances on the mind of someone strong yet incomplete.
The acting was good by all players, and I especially liked how the different camera angles were used to offer a more fragmented delivery, much like the fragmented thoughts of poor Susan herself. You could essentially place yourself in her mind, confused and full of regret but still managing a guarded communication with the outside world. Using the intercom as that barrier strengthened the overall reluctance for her character to accept her sign, her message, her conduit.