Rituals [Josh Aarons, UK/Sweden, 2019]
A short film from British director Josh Aarons, Rituals is a melancholic and contemplative piece about mental illness and friendship through adversity and hard times. It tells the story of Sofia, who flees to an isolated cabin in the woods to escape her daily struggles and ends up confronting her demons.
Filmed on location in Sweden, the country’s natural beauty compliments the film’s cinematography and makes for many visually gorgeous shots, from the establishing shots of a snowy forest to Sofia standing before a frozen lake as she contemplates suicide. The camerawork also frequently lets us into our protagonist’s head, with the camera shaking and struggling to focus as she loses her grip and begins to drink. All of this makes for an immersive experience; the cabin feels both cosy and isolating and certain shots of the wildness manage to feel cold even through the screen.
As Sofia’s mental health deteriorates, it is ultimately her budding friendship with a teenage girl and her pre-existing friendship with Viktor (the owner of the cabin) that allow her to come back from the brink and find herself again. Friendship being one of life’s great joys is a well-worn message in storytelling but that is for a good reason, and Rituals goes a long way to sell its message.
Rituals is a visually stunning and thoughtful film.
'Rituals' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.