Zoey (Meghan Keaveney) gives Gerry (Max Ribeiro) a box, stating that the box is full of all her feelings, and should be taken care of. Gerry opens the box, and the film begins to hop from near-death experiences to romantic dinners (complete with maggot-infested food) to other nightmarish visions of their flawed, or potentially flawed, relationship.
John Nodorft’s Box is a dark and disturbing film, utilizing physical manifestations and imagery to convey the emotional wounds that can occur in any relationship. And some of that imagery is downright nasty (the dinner sequence in particular had me near-retching). Overall, though, it gives a “body” to the often immaterial and theoretical.
If I have a criticism of the film, it’s not in how the film looks, sounds or in any of the performances, but it’s in my disbelief that anyone would stay together after the contents of the box are shared. Sure, there’s a flash or two of happiness, but the film seems to revel in the resultant dysfunction and I wouldn’t judge anyone for running from the room screaming. I guess there’s a statement there on the risk of love in relationships, but it feels almost too cynical in its execution.
In the end, though, Box works for all its nightmares, giving a life to the vulnerabilities that exist in any loving relationship. And maybe that’s what makes it so hard to experience; maybe if we really contemplate how much we potentially compromise our feelings in a relationship, the worst-case imagery we’d see would rival, if not eclipse, that which is on display here. I’ve never really thought that much about it, but it appears filmmaker Nodorft has saved me the effort.
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