Sat before a bay window, exposed to the glistening lights of Moscow, and listening to the kind of music you would expect to hear at a beachfront bar in Marbella, a teenage girl manipulates selfies to enhance her personal image to appease her online followers. Roma Glova’s Deleve is an effectively concise examination of one aspect of modern culture that those of a particular age group – which our protagonist, Eve falls into – can not seem to break free from.
Opening the film with a shot that wouldn’t look out of place in an Ari Aster film, the camera dollies in to Eve as she scrolls through various social media feeds without paying sincere attention to any of them. Her speaker plays music and lights up the room like a nightclub whilst her pet rats squeak through the tunes. Eve strikes a number of poses, taking a selfie of each before attempting to edit her own facial features. Her smartphone malfunctions, and this is when things take a turn for the unusual.
Even though the age of selfies and vain image editing is relatively young, this is a premise that is already on the verge of becoming cliché. ‘Technology hindering humanity’ has been done in many forms, with Disney Pixar’s WALL·E [Andrew Stanton, USA, 2008] being the first to come to mind and, coincidentally, also featuring a character called EVE.
However, the execution of Deleve is where Glova’s work shines. Clocking in at a brisk 2 minutes and 15 seconds, this straight-to-the-point sci-fi horror is well paced with an ending that conveys its point exactly as intended. The cinematography by Robert Sarukhanyan is crisp with some beautiful shots, enhanced by the decision to shoot on film rather than digital. This choice is aesthetically pleasing, intentionally highlighting the differentiation between the real and digital worlds. The film was cut by Glova himself, who did an excellent job of creating an increasing feeling of unease as Eve’s night grows stranger, topped off with a creepy sequence involving the white rats that harked back to the much-lauded opening titles from Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead [USA/Canada/Japan/France, 2004] remake.
Deleve is a story that takes few risks, but this compromise allows for a clearly talented production team to deliver it in style. Despite its very short runtime, it succeeds in making the audience think about what they’ve seen even after the credits roll. Production design, cinematography and direction are creatively intriguing and sole actor Mila Ershova delivers an appropriately subtle performance, bringing together a film crafted with purpose and care.
'Deleve' was part of the Official Selection at Short Focus Film Festival 2021. You can watch our exclusive Q&A with Roma Glova here.