Beloved: Review

Beloved: Review

I’ll begin with a confession. I like silence – in films, conversations, life. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car (2021) was my last silence-laden pleasure. I read a recent study that determined the amount of silence during a conversation that people felt comfortable with. For example, in many Asian countries, it is considered polite to pause for a few seconds before answering a question to show that you have reflected upon the question and your response, thus demonstrating sufficient gravitas. Contrasting to this are many Western countries where silence is viewed as a void that must be filled. Decoding the silence is culturally specific.  

Writer and director, 7 has carefully incorporated the silences that appear throughout shared life and intimacy, right through the script. Evenly balancing it with the spoken words, while gently guiding the viewer through the intricate complication of miscommunication and its complications.

American Kassy (Jana Miley) and Mongolian Avar (Iveel Mashbat) have been together for six years.  They share the intimacy and the related companionable silence that accompanies that amount of time – sharing food, a bed and the bathroom. Their familiarity also means avoiding the subjects that lead to conflict. Is she responsible for his happiness in a society that is not his own? Does he take her seriously? Do her family hate him?

The evocative opening image took me everywhere. Was the turned back a clue, or nothing at all? It certainly provided an amalgam of the ambiguities experienced when faced with unspoken expressions of emotion. The paradox of desire and frustration that leads to ambivalence and silence. My musing of this delectably provocative film about a marriage, and so much more, leads to the question, is anyone a clean slate, and is a clean slate necessary in a relationship? Do two sullied slates cancel out each other? And what place does forgiveness have?

Kassy and Avar’s apparent failure to deal with any of these questions is one which is representative of society, not of a failed script. To the contrary, Bishrel Mashbat’s script perfectly combined with Mike Maliwanag’s evocative and unusually beautiful photography, to seamlessly evoke the complications around communication, disappointment and expectation, while forcing the audience to attentively lean in and observe the movements and responses. “With enough effort anyone can be the one” Avar concludes. I loved it.

Beloved is Bishrel Mashbat’s third film after Intruder (2012),and In The Land Of Lost Angels (2019)

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An Australian who has spent most of her adult life in Paris, Louise is a sometime photographer, documentary-maker, writer, researcher, day-dreamer and interviewer, who prefers to start the day at the local cinema’s 9am session.


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