Capital of Pain – Film Review
By Chiara Zucchelli
Capital of Pain is a powerfully evocative short film. A self professed “case study of London” by its writer and director, Alejandra Lopez, it does not shy away from themes of casual sex, isolation and monotony in a big city.
We follow the daily life of Anna, played by Juliette de Prigny, set to the surrealist verses of Paul Eluard in his eponymous poetry collection Capital of Pain. De Prigny is captivatingly enigmatic in her role as Anna, despite never uttering a word, she maintains the viewer’s full attention throughout. Her ability to replicate subtle glances and create tension seamlessly with each of her male co-stars, Connor Finch, Wes Ritter and Todd Hunter, allows de Pringy to definitively make her mark in the film’s short run time.
At times, we are met with snapshots that are disorientating and confusing – jumping forward or backward in time, coupled with unusual camera angles or extended takes – while some may be explained away by the film’s guerilla style, the others are not without calculated purpose. The shots intermingle beautifully with whispers of Eluard’s french verse – also voiced by de Prigny – guiding us through the surreal, and isolating experience of Anna’s life in a modern day capital. And, without a doubt, Martí Brugué’s score is the standout of the short, perfectly attuned to De Prigny’s narration, and fitting seamlessly throughout.
The juxtaposition of shots of London and the french verse certainly seems to allude the the isolation of Europeans post-Brexit referendum: Eluard’s verses are carefully curated in Lopez’s screenplay. “The silent ones are liars, speak”, aptly begins the film’s narration.
Given the absence of dialogue in the script, we are left to look for clues elsewhere about Anna’s journey through the capital. While the film begins in black and white with de Prigny and Finch depicting a cold morning-after, it fades to colour by the time she shares a moment with Ritter on a park bench, to a kaleidoscope of blues reds and purples once Anna settles on her companion for the night, played by Hunter.
Hunter himself is chillingly seedy in his portrayal of Anna’s nighttime hookup, making the moments between he and de Prigny powerfully memorable. But as they go up to her room, the colours fade and we are left wondering if the cycle will repeat again the next morning for our Anna.
All in all, Alejandra Lopez’ direction debut in the short ‘Capital of Pain’ is a slam dunk. With a powerful screenplay, beautifully shot, a stunning score by Brugué – all brought together by a talented cast – what’s not to love?
Here you can check out the trailer for this gem of a film. You can also watch Capital of Pain online at: vimeo.com/290771061 with the passcode COP2018.
Director / Screenwriter: Alejandra López
Director of Photography: James Westlake
Art Director: Billy Minshull-Gardner
Composer: Martí Brugué
Sound Designer: David Sheik
Juliette de Prigny