Set in early 2000, Afghanistan, the film opens to a visual of Daerik (Greg Hill), a war veteran who has returned to his hometown after being discharged from his services. Accompanied by painful memories, Daerik is an archetype of every war hero who has survived. Hounded by acute PTSD and recollections of the horrors witnessed, he lives a destitute’s life along the margins of a society. We aren’t given a glimpse into his active military days, but director Gianlorenzo Albertini accomplishes a near impossible feat – that of capturing the angst, the forlornness and the mental anguish of those who have been on the field and witnessed what no humans must.
Co-written by Aric Coppola & Gianlorenzo Albertini, the story explores the unique bond between siblings at the backdrop of a PTSD suffering war veteran whilst hinting at themes such as homelessness, lack of help in rehabilitation, mental health and in general, a system’s failure. The title alone expounds at the nature of the sibling bond exhibited in the film. It’s faint, but still there; subtle yet powerful. The story is novel in the sense that although thematically centered on finding your lost loved one, choosing hope and faith over hopelessness and disillusionment is an added dimension to this gripping tale.
The film primarily follows Daerik who is hanging along a thin line of sanity. Having chosen isolation to come to terms with his grief and anxiety, his life is a blotched memory of all that he wishes to forget. Rebecca on the other hand is a girl in search of her lost brother, who mysteriously disappeared since the war. She goes annually to the park to fly kites in memory of the sweet childhood she once shared with him. A chance meeting with Daerik compels her to help him despite himself and the story explores the nature of their relationship and what happens thereafter.
Greg Hill brings an unusual transparency to his character. From his body language to the profound disillusionment in his eyes, the lost sense of judgment and identity, Hill manages to unnerve the audience with his stellar performance. Rebecca played by Yulia Yusupova captures the pain of someone who is still on the wait. With just one dialogue her character cascades the screenplay into a volley of emotions.
The music by Gianlorenzo Albertini, although sparingly used, is melancholic, adding impetus to the neat screenplay. Coppola’s camera plays with hidden spaces, shadows and lights to bring to screen the claustrophobia of living in one’s trapped mind. Besides the acting, the one thing that is worth noting in this film is that with not a single combat scene or gory visuals, Albertini manages to bring the happenings of the war zone within the time frame of 18:30 minutes. The deliberate slow pacing of the narrative builds up to give the feel to the viewer of something terrible and at best, avoidable.
Watch ‘The Ribbon On The Kite’ to find out if Rebecca finds her brother or if Daerik finds the peace he has been longing for.