Directed by: Mikhail Romanovskiy
Written By: Maxim Maximov
STARRING: Elena Yakovleva and Ilya Sologub
Timeline is a powerful and emotive short drama from Director Mikhail Romanovskiy and writer Maxim Maximov. The film opens with atmospheric aerial shots of Moscow’s skyline at night, whilst a mother (Elena Yakovleva) speaks to her two young sons in voiceover. The narrative then moves inside an apartment, where the mother prepares food and continues her dialogue with the boys. It soon transpires, however, that this presumed scenario is not in fact what is happening. Rather, this is the story of a heartbroken mother, who is attempting to work through the pain of losing both her sons by interacting with a video of them; a video which is being edited by a young man (Ilya Sologub).
The lead performance by Elena Yakovleva is superb; heartbreaking and with a subtlety that perfectly portrays the brittle shell of a woman the mother has become – trapped in the past as she literally plays and replays scenes with her lost sons. There is no music in the film, which fits perfectly. The silence which surrounds the character is, at times, almost louder than music would have been, and deftly reflects the painful and almost suffocating silence the mother must endure now that her boys are no longer with her; a silence she can only try to fill with their voices on repeat.
The visual storytelling is also excellent. A moment when the mother says, ‘People are very weak to resist bad temptations’ as she pours herself a large alcoholic drink, is a poignant and subtle way of demonstrating her own weakness. The colour grading is cold and green-tinged, reflecting, perhaps, the light emitted by a computer screen; and setting the film at night implies that all real light from the mother’s life is gone – all that remains is artificial light and a computerised image of her sons; a two-dimensional, cold imitation of the real thing.
At 8 minutes this succinct short packs a powerful punch. The city shots which top and tail the film suggest an individual lost in a dark and overwhelming world, the lights of cars whizzing past as countless lives continue, oblivious to the pain and loss of the film’s protagonist. A strong piece of storytelling, beautifully executed.
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