Samuel Kihagi’s “The Blue” follows Francois (Lee Bingham) living a life of solitude as a filmmaker and screenwriter who spends most of his days procrastinating. He lounges around, eats, watches TV and internet porn and slowly sinks further into a state of depression. The film quickly becomes almost unbearable to watch as Francois wastes away in his daily routine.
The sadness in his mundane existence reminded of Ellen Burstyn’s character in “Requiem for a Dream” (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) where the audience can literally seek no shelter, and are forced to watch a rapid downhill spiral. Kihagi’s use of inserts and jump cuts were reminiscent of Aronofsky’s editing style, the addition of these visual jolts not only increase the discomfort in watching the film; but, also pop the audience back into engagement when it all becomes too mundane to watch.
As a viewer and filmmaker myself, I could really empathize with a lot of what Francois was going through, which made me squeamish in remembering my own past of staring at a partially blank script. In watching Francois, though, I had hoped that this story would have a bright ending.
About halfway throughout the film I believe I let out an audible sigh of relief when a random stranger came to Francois’s door. I was glad to not only see him interact with someone, but also to give the film some much needed dialogue exchange. The random stranger was Dora, (Kayla Morales,) who showed up to check his water meter and teach him about water conservation.
Dora was peppy and upbeat, the polar opposite of Francois, yet somehow found a way to give him tough love as she helped him look inward and see that the change he was really seeking started from within. Though an interesting dichotomy was apparent from their first meeting, they were gravitationally pulled together by a shared sadness I thought was truly unique. On the surface Dora appeared to be blissfully happy, but we quickly discovered she was suffering from her own thoughts of inadequacy and internal struggles, and that the two were actually not all that different.
The standout in this film for me was Lee Bingham as Francois. Appearing alone on screen for over an hour is a difficult task, he really understood the rhythm of the character, and played Francois with a subtle sadness that came across incredibly realistic. I hope he continues his film work, he would pair well with Spike Jonze or Spike Lee in the future.
Although this piece is interesting for a critical review I cannot recommend it to a mainstream audience. The cinematography leaves something to be desired and there are flaws in the sound design, but I cannot really blame the budgetary constraints for this film having a frustrating experience. It is very plodding and methodical, and getting through a piece like this is really for a more seasoned indie film viewer.
That being said, I have a huge admiration for Kihagi and I think he has massive potential given the right exposure and additional funding. There’s a lot of discomfort to digest here, but it is brimming with artistic vision and showed a bright future for Kihagi.
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