Nejib Kthiri’s Trinou explores the inner life of a withdrawn, wheelchair-bound teenager in the Tunisian countryside, limited first by his body and then by his tense home life. With all walls closing in on him, dreams seem to be the breadth of possibilities for the boy. Over the course of the 15-minute film, Omar makes a dramatic reach for the mobility and freedom elusive to him.
At home, Omar (Max Pemberton) lives with his mother, stepfather and a little stepbrother (Bayrem Jabri). Resentful of Omar, his stepfather, Youssef (Mohamed Grayaâ) keeps up an incessant flow of remarks over his immobility. When possible, Youssef berates Dalila (Kaouther Dhaouadi), Omar’s mother. Parallel to this, Omar pores over the pages of glossy English magazines. What captures his attention, he cuts out and puts up on his wall. The wall is the sum of Omar’s own space in the house. He is begrudged everything else. His disability is not limited to his legs, the film conveys; it extends to the rest of his life, overburdened by a spiteful father figure. When the film moves to delve into his interiority, it shows a nightmare world of repetition and forced immobility. He walks, he dreams, he falls. Rinse and repeat. The effect is stifling.
His dream world is in stark contrast to his physical world. The former is a glossy and sleek London train station, brought to life from the pages of his magazines. But in his immediate surroundings, his stepfather poisons the very air of the countryside. In the background, a masonry bridge overlaid with rail tracks stands grand and waiting. As things come to a head at home and in his dreams, a defiant Omar makes a fresh leap towards a freer, more fulfilling life in his immediate surroundings than in his dreams. A train, the signifier of mobility and modernity, whistles by on the bridge.
Trinou ends on this note of exuberance most natural in children. It is no grand solution, but a joyous rupture in the dreadful ordinary. The world around him comes alive in celebration of a life that is far from perfect but certainly more than a still tomb.
Watch Trinou (Train) Short Film Trailer
Trinou: A Quest for Life’s Vibrancy