Written & Directed by: David Leidy
STARRING: Dasha Leidy, Brad Holbrook
Faded Love opens with brooding, atmospheric music and a handheld shot of a woman as she runs in a park. She seems agitated and preoccupied, and the scene is intercut with memories of a young girl interacting with a man who we assume is her father. At first it appears that perhaps the woman is mourning the loss of a daughter and a husband, but this becomes ambiguous when an older man appears on the bench next to her and suggests that she partake in an ‘experimental’ exercise in which an older man will take advantage of her in order to overcome her fears – suggesting that the memories are those of the woman as a young girl, and that she is undergoing therapy to try and overcome childhood abuse.
There are some elements of the narrative in the opening scene that are a little puzzling – it is unclear as to why a psychologist or therapist would be working in an open-air park as opposed to a therapy room, which makes the setup feel shady and ambiguous – it is clear from the outset that this is not conventional therapy and suggests that this man is not to be trusted. The subsequent sexual scenes – in which as the creepy, narcissistic older therapist takes advantage of the woman for his own grotesque enjoyment - are extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant to watch; they are essentially rape scenes. She is left naked and broken afterwards and we are left under no illusion that this man is not acting in his patient's best interests.
This piece overall is very dark and disturbing – moody lighting, jump cuts and visual overlays intercut with memories suggest the disintegration of the woman’s mind and sanity. The film overall makes for very uncomfortable viewing – at least until the end when a satisfying twist to the narrative alters the power balance. The performances by both actors are compelling and believable – particularly lead actress Dasha Leidy, who convincingly portrays a complex, unsettled state of mind without ever spilling into melodrama. Brad Holbrook has the unenviable task of playing a supremely dislikeable character and he achieves this with panache.
Overall, Director David Leidy has created a very well-executed short and it is unsurprising that the film has done very well in genre, noir and thriller programmes at film festivals. The narrative twist is imaginative and it is gratifying not to have the woman portrayed as a victim by the end of the film. The cinematography is gorgeous – particularly the street scenes at night, which are beautifully lit - and the imaginative use of bokeh and deliberately agitated and jumpy editing successfully create an eerie, disconcerting atmosphere. The music is also distinctive and adds considerably to this gripping, unsettling piece of work.
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