Pupil tells the confusing story of a man living out a sci-fi nightmare. Confined in a clinically barren room, he is haunted by flashes of the past horrors that have led him here. Focussing on this baffling situation, Meysam Muyini’s film attempts to tackle issues of traumatic memory and genetic modification, but a lack of cohesion prevents the plot from fulfilling its potential.
The beginning of the film evokes pertinent questions about the strange impersonality of photos. While the family snaps are, in a way, deeply personal, they are also a reminder of a past moment that we, the present viewers, can never fully understand. Faces half turned away from the lens and the voicelessness of the subjects show that we can never really get the full picture.
Initially, it is a bit difficult to know where the plot is taking us. Yes, the scenes of drug taking and exploitation are heart rending, but what is it all leading to? The sudden switch from the barren quarry to some kind of women’s institution could definitely have benefitted from a smoother transition. Although one could argue that the viewer’s confusion mirrors that of the characters, it is difficult to be invested in a story that you don’t understand.