About a year ago, I reviewed a film for Rogue Cinema, that I absolutely adored called “True-D”, by an Irish director named Noel Brady. In it, people put on “True-D” glasses instead of “3-D” and are then able to see the histories of the people around them such as the bum on the street, the lady that is a bitch to everyone, etc. It was such a different sort of film than what typically comes around and I loved its message and its uniqueness. Not too long ago…okay, it was actually a couple of months ago but due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to get around to it till now and I truly apologize, Noel!…Noel sent me his latest film, “Alicia’s Mask”. This is a really hard film for me to review and I’m not sure what the best way to go about saying what I need to without devolving into something off-film-topic is, so bear with me. I’m going to say this first of all – this film is about rape so if that is something you’re not comfortable with or if it’s a trigger for you, you might not want to continue, okay?
Powerful. Beautiful. Raw. Those are the first three words that came to mind after I watched this for the first time. This film packs a hell of a punch in 6 minutes. I had to take a few days after to step away from the film and what it personally brought me and then come back to it again. So I re-watched it this morning and had the exact same reaction as the first time around. I think you know you have a winner when you can elicit an emotional reaction so profound that it takes days to process.
Alicia is making an introduction video for her new online dating profile. As the film starts we see her curling her hair, putting on makeup, prettying herself up. On the flip side we see an older man in front of a computer, searching for dating sites. Then Alicia sits to start filming. She starts with the norm – “Hi, I’m Alicia. I’m a Pisces and I love long walks in the rain.”, only to be interrupted by a phone call from a friend. We hear her reassuring her friend that yes, she is making the video now and yes, she is still up for that party later tonight. It’s then we notice the bottle of wine on the table – perhaps our Alicia is a wee bit nervous about making this video? It would seem so because next we see her start again…and again…and again…only to never get by the words “Hi, I’m Alicia and I’m a Pisces.” before breaking into tears and going back to the table for more wine…and then pills…And on the flip side we see the older man, viewing her video…then we see Alicia having flashbacks, fuzzy and unclear so we only get a hint of what’s happening…till finally Alicia starts filming again with the words, “My name is Alicia Heart and I was raped a year ago today.” And on the flip side we realize that the older man is a cop, a detective. And not long after that the film ends with a shot of an arrest warrant. There is more Alicia says after she states her name and what happened to her. It’s only about two lines and that’s where more than half the emotional impact comes from.
The film is beautiful, not just in how it was shot but for how it handles this girl’s plight. The way she breaks down over and over again with the words, “I’m Alicia and I’m a Pisces…” is heartbreaking and too real, too raw, too honest. If you’ve been her and you’re watching, you know. You know exactly what she’s feeling, what she’s thinking – the pain captured here is accurate. And if you don’t know, I imagine you’ll have a very good idea after this. The use of black and white helps immensely, I feel that color would have just distracted from the story (though the flashbacks have hints of color, hints of red in particular that add another layer to the beauty and pain).
I can’t praise Doey Mulligan enough for her portrayal of Alicia. She is utterly pitch perfect – vulnerable and lovely. And high praise for Noel Brady here – he’s taken a subject matter that is difficult, controversial and so much more and handled it with aplomb and a delicate touch. There’s nothing graphic to be seen here. It’s simply a girl trying to move past a trauma who is drowning in the murky waters, calling out for help before it’s too late. And it’s the simplicity here that hurts the most.
“Alicia’s Mask” is currently on the festival circuit so it’s not out for public consumption just yet but I do highly recommend it.
Also you’ll notice comments are closed, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m doing that due to the subject matter. It’s been a hot topic for debate lately and more importantly, it’s personal for me, so comments are just not something I want to deal with. Sorry, guys. Comments will be back on for Bad Milo, coming up next!