Samantha Paradise’s short film Conscious plays out almost like an experimental narrative, showing us the emotional and physical aftermath of a traumatic incident in the life of bartender Ramona (Jamie Soltis). While we can unfortunately guess the nature of the event from the opening seconds, the film reveals the mystery slowly, letting the pieces come together even as the story splits with renderings of past and present, often to underscore the devastation that has occurred.
To which the film is a disturbingly realistic rendering, which means it is also not a pleasant one. Essentially we’re watching emotional scars form, though not necessarily heal. It’s a traumatic scenario, and one that won’t, can’t, be fully recovered from in such a short tale.
It’s a powerful tale, just a hard film to experience (though one infinitely easier to experience than what the main character has suffered). It’s respectful of its subject matter, even as the filmmakers come at it from a more creative angle with the usage of the slow reveal and mystery build up of what lead up to the event, even as we’ve already been in the thick of the pain that came after.
I think some could find catharsis in this, others could find more pain, but ultimately Conscious delivers a realism that is as subtle as it is overwhelming.
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