By Monica Foster.
Created in under 48 hours, Tom Bailey’s Circadian Rhythms (2015) explores the nature of illness and biological disorders that are beyond people’s initial control and comprehension. The emphasis on the corporal and the spiritual is introduced at the beginning of the film with a wide and establishing shot of an empty field with a celestial aura as James’ body suddenly becomes the focus of the shot. For an unknown and mysterious reason not known by his family, he is compelled to run at night each day almost compulsively. James’ nightly escapades inevitably cause a breach within his family structure; his mother tries to help him, doctors prescribe him medication which he does not take, everything seems futile in the search for a reasonable explanation.
James does not want to cease running because by doing this, it is understood that he reaches a level of transcendence or ethereal quality beyond human understanding which is propelled by the break of his circadian rhythm each night. The feeling that he achieves by doing this, the temporary uplifting of the self, makes him want to do it over again to the point where he even remarks that he could give up ten years of his life or more just to exhaust his body and mind in order to feel that earthly transcendence.
The opening title shot of Circadian Rhythms is another reference to the bodily and the organism, particularly in what alien matter resides in James himself and the dichotomy relation of static and active movement of what is being examined.
The anguish of the film is that James is not aware of what is really wrong with him. His parents think that he’s having “episodes” assuming it is a mental disorder, and he himself engages in the act because it is spiritually uplifting but little does he know that what lays in him will slowly cause him to decay; every time he runs he reaches a state of ecstasy that will cost him his health. Bastian Keb’s uncanny and sorrow inducing score touches upon the viewer’s sympathy toward James and his unknowing of the consequences that he will endure for only a short stay at the Elysium Fields.
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