Get out your philosophy 101 textbooks for ‘A Dionysian Affair’ and you can follow along while the film makers dramatize their final paper in a twenty minute short. Nicholas Scipione plays Matt, who enters a diner to have a conversation with Bill, who might be his therapist. Suddenly they are not in a diner anymore, they’re on an empty theatre stage complete with a cryptic waiter. Bill continues to ask questions about Matt’s life, Matt explains that his parents died a few years ago, leaving him to care for his three year old brother. We flash to Matt’s life with his brother to find that Matt is overly concerned about the fiscal effects of WalMart on the local economy, (Marx would be proud) and according to his friend Tom isn’t getting any tail (now Freud is happy.). Bill theorizes to Matt that the reason his mind is trapped in a diner is because he has denied his own desires while taking care of his younger brother thus his mental state is a function of his own subjugated desires.
This is an interesting theory, but it doesn’t translate to a coherent story. Scipione seems to be channeling Woody Allen and it’s not clear that Matt is trying to escape his mental prison or even that he understands Bill’s theory in his waking life. There are not any other developed characters, everyone else is a mouthpiece or the representation of an idea. It would have been interesting to actually see Matt’s interaction with people as a representation of his repressed desires, rather then be told about it. The filmmakers make interesting use of locations to represent Matt’s declined mental state and they set a somber tone but I was reminded of better films that depict mental illness in a more visually interesting way. According to their website the film is a selection in the upcoming New York International Film Festival and you should check it out, it’s a flawed film but an interesting idea.