NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2020 REVIEW! I’m just going to come out right and say that The Plastic House is the very definition of an art film. There’s little to no dialogue, intricate shots, a story you have to figure out for yourself. It’s not for everybody, to say the least. With that being said, Allison Chhorn has done an impressive thing with her 45-minute-film, and that is to show the true feeling of being alone. In this post-COVID world, where some degree of isolation is the new normal, such an emotion is all the more resonant.
The movie sees Chhorn construct a fictional reality where her parents passed away, and she is left alone to tend to their soybean farm. The farm is enclosed in a giant greenhouse, hence the title The Plastic House. We see the greenhouse in various states of disrepair and when it is fully functioning. We see Allison tend to the plants on her own and the meditative monotony of performing these actions, especially alone.
“…her parents passed away, and she is left alone to tend to their soybean farm.”
There is a lot of focus on outdoor sounds; as I mentioned, there’s almost zero dialogue. There is a lot of wind, birds chirping, and planes flying. All the sounds are captured beautifully. Chhorn’s camerawork is the piece de resistance of this entire project. There are so many creative shots, but I especially enjoy the shots showing the passage of time by Chhorn’s hair length. The film begins with Allison cutting her hair.
The Plastic House is only 45 minutes long, which is honestly the perfect length for the type of film it is. There is a bit of dialogue, and at some point, we do see Chhorn’s parents, working in the fully functioning greenhouse. However, Chhorn’s meditation on the thought of losing them and having to tackle the entire workload by herself is akin to something we all think of as we grow, and our parents all grow older. How are we going to carry the loads they leave us? How do we face the isolation of grief? It’s heavy stuff but beautifully executed. The only thing I have to say is that The Plastic House is not entirely accessible to all audiences. That’s the thing that makes the film more precious to those who enjoy it, though, so that can’t necessarily be too bad.
The Plastic House screened at the 58th annual New York Film Festival.
"…how do we face the isolation of grief?"