Misophonia [Bhavik C. Pankhania, UK, 2019]
Misophonia is the hatred of sound; not a phobia as such, but an extreme dislike of noise. The short film of the same name portrays this perfectly. The film revolves around the protagonist, X, who represents people who suffer from misophonia.
The protagonist is sat in a restaurant waiting for his girlfriend to arrive, looking at a ring he has with him. A series of images appear showing him writing in a notebook and looking at the ring, as it becomes clear what he is planning. These images are an exciting representation of memory. The only noise to accompany it is the ticking of a clock. However, as there are no overwhelming sounds, the memories are pleasant.
The visuals work magnificently. The dim lights draw focus on the couple as they have their dinner, creating a more relaxed atmosphere. This counters the imagery of a dungeon that appears. It has a cold, blue, miserable aesthetic. Everyone in the restaurant is nicely dressed and relaxed, whereas the man in the dungeon is shirtless, angry and chained. The cinematographer has created a unique visual language, which shows the difference between experience and memory.
The soundtrack is what sets the film apart. As the couple are sat at the table enjoying their food, we get our first hint of its true extent. She begins to make noise as she eats, and this is when the film begins to work. The sound is overpowering and disgusting, the sound designer really amplifying the chewing. The dungeon then accompanies this with a high-pitched noise, creating an atmosphere of anxiety.
Written, directed and performed by a real-life sufferer Bhavik C. Pankhania, who brings the much-needed element of authenticity to the film, it is clear Bhavik understands the eponymous condition and presents it to the audience effectively. Candela Gomez, who plays the role of the girlfriend, gives an excellent performance. She understands what her partner is experiencing, and this is shown when she notices him react to her chewing. This small interaction perfectly demonstrates the tension between the characters and the struggle that the protagonist experiences.
Misophonia explores a unique disorder and shows the audience how one can be driven to resentment and hatred as a result, and it truly delivers with the visual and sound design particularly creating an extraordinary experience.
'Misophonia' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2020.