Rachel [Indigo Bates, USA, 2018]
It is a question that defines life itself - what is it to feel love, to be loved and to love. What is the definition of ‘true love’ and that person whom we perceive to be the embodiment of a love that is pure and complete?
When we meet the eponymous Rachel (Winter Martin) she is at a similar point of questioning in her life. Rachel plays out like a video diary piece ‘to camera’, addressing the audience. We are immediately introduced to Rachel and she invites the audience into this dilemma of hers and thus, by default, ours as the film forces us to interrogate our own perceptions of love.
The film opens on a sombre note and the narrative allows that feeling to gestate and then proceeds to give an insight into the relationship Rachel is experiencing. Importantly, the film doesn’t attempt to answer the opening question directly and fully, merely choosing to turn the mirror on the audience and asking them to have that debate with themselves through Rachel’s situation evidenced onscreen.
Throughout the film and certainly by the film’s ending, we witness very personal moments captured in Rachel’s life. The short film is essentially a monologue with interaction, a self-responsive diary that knows the answer it seeks but doesn’t rush to declare the answer. This is kept personal to Rachel so that, by the end, only she absolutely knows with clues left throughout as to her thinking and her answer.
The downbeat tone of the narrative prevails throughout, but it is injected with lightness during the moments the couple spend together. The artistry in conveying meaning is something director Indigo Bates achieves exceptionally well. She shapes an intimate insight into this woman’s life and her search that we are asked to join. The character’s physical and psychological intimacies are mapped out skilfully as we sense the weight of Rachel’s burden and the questions she asks herself and, more importantly, we understand the journey and resolution of those questions.
Rachel is a film with a clever narrative structure, an example of brave and incisive narrative filmmaking and a piece that that showcases a filmmaker very much at the height of her powers.
'Rachel' was a film submission in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2018.