Within the confines of a Ferris wheel cabin on the pier of a Lebanese beach, we join four young women on a consolatory day out for one of the group who has just gone through a break-up. As the girls queue and then clamber on board the Ferris wheel, they mirthfully engage in a cathartic character-assassination of the boyfriend who has recently dumped their friend. Thus begins their giddy ascent into the warm, dusk-lit sky. With the women suspended in mid-air, the wheel cranks to an ominous halt, just as another of the group’s party has delivered a painful revelation of her own.
Three Centimetres – painstakingly shot in one take (cinematographer Pierfrancesco Cioffi intimated in the post-screening Q&A that, ironically, he is both claustrophobic and acrophobic) – interrogates Lebanon’s societal attitudes towards femininity and sexuality.
The location is vital to the film’s atmosphere. The characters within it hover high above the eyes and ears of the public with an overlooking view the Mediterranean Sea, initially feeling giddy, and then liberated. But then, with aching truths coming to the fore, we suddenly become acutely aware of the restrictive enclosure of the booth in which they are now awkwardly gathered for several minutes.
At times, the dialogue is a little heavy-handed and a couple of the performances perhaps a touch overstated, but the film’s heart is certainly in the right place.