There is a steely coldness to Tamara Hansen’s Windows To Nowhere that fits its towering protagonist, a grieving mother who lost her daughter to accidental negligence. And yet, this same coldness keeps the viewer at a distance from the same protagonist in a way that proves it difficult to form any associations, warm or otherwise, with the character.
This distance is the result of DP Daryl Pittman’s framing, which not only keeps Elise often facing away from the camera but also leaves a general abundance of loosely framed shots which fail to maintain tension. To the film’s credit, there is a lot to create tension and the shortcomings of the framing are redeemed (to some extent) by both the screenplay and the colour scheme.
Elise, played by Brette Taylor, is a toxic woman in her grief. She spares no one from the wrath of her misfortune, whether it is her own son (Kenneth Brosdal) or his friend. Gretchen (Raina Pellinger), Henry’s friend, is a particular thorn to Elise. In her, she sees her own dead daughter and this incites only hate in Elise because Gretchen stands where she feels her daughter should have been. The film does not allow Taylor enough room to play with the character, who one feels could have brought more dimension to what is clearly a complex and fascinating character, if not particularly sympathizable.
Elise talks to no one, not even to her own husband (Michael Borrelli), steeping in her own grief, tinged heavily with self-loathing. Gliding around the house and returning over and over to the pool where her daughter drowned, the film emphasizes all the red she wears, making her both diabolical and pitiable, as though daring everyone around her to hate her.
With the climax approaching, Elise’s guilt and sorrow continue manifesting in dangerously hateful ways, beginning to now directly affect her remaining family. The film is on no one’s side here, despite the fact that we see things expressly from Elise’s perspective. As much as she is hateful, Elise is nonetheless allowed to grieve and process her own guilt.#ShortFilmReview: Windows To Nowhere: Guilt has unexpected ways of killing us. Click To Tweet
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Windows To Nowhere: Observing Sorrow In Unsympathetic Characters