Letters from Eniwetok [Ed Carter, USA, 2018]
Letters from Eniwetok is a 12-minute experimental short film from Boston-based British director Ed Carter. It tells the story of a young woman (played by Hazel Rodes) who discovers various objects buried at the beach near her home and the effect on her life this ritual has. Shot in evocative black and white with superb lighting, the short film is an effective little piece, which successfully portrays the intimacy of discovery.
The plot’s events, as detailed above, are occasionally interrupted by a static/white noise effect, disrupting the protagonist’s cosy life as she puts the found objects to use in her quaint home. This effect is at once both unnerving and revealing, as it suggests that something is underpinning this life, whether it be a tragic event, depression or a persistent sense of emptiness. As an experimental film, what the static effect symbolises is of course up to the viewer’s reading of the text, but Letters from Eniwetok’s final shot, in which the young woman, after visiting the beach many times throughout the film, walks into the waves with a note in hand, suggests a darker interpretation.
Of course, suicide is not the only interpretation of the film’s conclusion. Perhaps it says something about this reviewer, leaping to the darkest (and most literal) interpretation of events. After all, the final shot could just as easily operate as a metaphor for becoming one with nature, or even giving back to nature as much as the sea gives to the protagonist. Discussing various interpretations of abstract events and images is one of the base pleasures that experimental cinema provides and something at which Letters from Eniwetok succeeds.
Special praise must be given to Hazel Rodes who anchors the film effectively, despite having no dialogue and often having only her hands to act with as she digs, examines and buries. She makes for a likeable human presence through her body language alone, and her final walk into the waves is nothing short of haunting.
Letters from Eniwetok is an interesting and thought-provoking piece that invites and deserves close examination and multiple readings into its symbolism and subtext.
'Letters from Eniwetok' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2018.