As the film opens, Adeline (Daniella Alma) is digging up a book from the ground, late at night. The next day, we see her at a bench, crying and smoking as she writes in a book. Is it the same book she dug up? Are we seeing the future, as she modifies the book, or are we seeing the past that created it? Regardless, the experience appears to be emotionally painful for Adeline.
Considering Joseph Arnone’s short film Adeline was inspired by a poem written by lead actor Daniella Alma, it is fitting that the film plays out in a similar way. As Adeline smokes, cries and scribbles into her book, we’re given glimpses into the type of personalities and scenarios that may be present within the pages. And like any good poem, the meaning is not so obvious. Even the effect on the reader/writer isn’t clear; it seems disastrous and sad, but there is an eventual cathartic release to it all.
I saw the film as an interpretation of despair in the act of creation; some things that are born inside don’t want to be shared, but they’re doing too much damage hidden away. Will their sharing cause an equal amount of pain and damage? Who knows, and the despair is in taking the chance one way or the other; damned if you do, damned if you don’t. To me, the digging up of the book signifies the act of reflection on that which you feared taking place, or perhaps it was the unearthing of the book that inspired the new creation?
Visually the film rolls between color and black and white footage to signify when what we’re seeing is the world of the writer and the world of the written, and there are a number of shots that are striking in their composition. The film also includes an appropriately haunting score, that enhances the overall experience.
Adeline does seem to dwell a bit too much in the realm of the romanticized suffering artist stereotype for my own tastes, but it still inspired much thought despite my misgivings there, so I don’t fault it too much. Daniella Alma puts on a powerful performance, even as she runs an emotional gauntlet. Overall it is a quality piece of experimental, visual poetry. As with so many films, the ultimate interpretation will be your own, but at least you’re given quite a bit to chew on.
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