A woman (Deneen Melody) climbs naked into a bathtub, and proceeds to take a kitchen knife to her wrists. As her suicide attempt plays out, we see images and sequences leading up to her tragic decision. Her relationship with her man has suffered a severe abuse of trust, and she is lost in her despair. As the blood pours out, will she find a reason to live?
Jeremiah Kipp’s Crestfallen is a music score-driven silent film, with the only truly obvious narrative developments being the suicide attempt. Everything else is open to interpretation, so even the vague synopsis above could be considered suspect at worst, and filtered through my own sensibilities at best. I think the film holds your hand enough for the foundation, but the true impact depends on your own interpretation to fill out the story.
While having a woman commit suicide in a bathtub is not the most original idea ever committed to screen, the way it is handled is unique enough. For one, the bathtub and bathroom is epic; if one ever considers suicide in a tub, they should be so lucky as to have this one. The visuals around the suicide period are of a reverent nature, as the film employs numerous artistic angles and composition to give more power and flourish to what’s going on. In its way, the imagery gives the suicide attempt an almost sacrificial ritual feel, like she’s offering up her life for the option to begin again under better circumstances.
For a short film, though, it plays more like an extended trailer. Since it is silent save for the score, which drives everything forward, sometimes with repetitive menace, we’re presented with all these images and, again, asked to piece together the story. It’s fine and it works for the most part, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing out on something the entire time. I don’t mind my own interpretations, and we obviously inform our viewing of anything with our own experiences and context, but I still felt a little confused from time to time.
On that same note, however, the film does manage to get across all the main ideas and beats that a longer project would have, so it’s not like this particular treatment loses anything; if it were a trailer, one wouldn’t really need to see the film to know what happens, so it efficiently does its job almost too well.
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