Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer and Director: Elcid Asaei

There is an art to short story writing and being able to credibly create a scenario, characters and narrative purpose is a rare skill; to do that in only 5 minutes is extraordinary. Elcid Asaei’s short film Lost for Words does just that as a couple separated for three months by lockdown decide their 10-year connection is over.

Nadia and Victoria are going to break-up; the inevitable ending of their relationship is about to take place in the grounds of a country house on a lovely summer’s day. Remembering all the things they have started to hate about one another, the pair separately prime themselves for the conversation to come, but just who is breaking up with who?

Lost for Words is essentially all build-up, leading to Nadia and Victoria’s eventual confrontation in front of a park bench where both, it seems, are happy to go their separate ways. As the viewer tracks their journey to this spot, Writer and Director Asaei plays with the tone of the film, giving it a jaunty French-film vibe in which the characters take their actions seriously but there is a comic styling to much of the action whether that be Nadia scowling at a peacock or Victoria minutely examining a leaf. There is even a touch of Western as Asaei focuses in on the eyes of his leads as they size-up the task ahead.

Both characters are lost in their own reflections, played as voiceover so it becomes impossible to tell whose thoughts the viewer is hearing, and it is only later in the film that the reaction of the actors indicates that thoughts belong to them both in a mutual desire to end the relationship. As they list their grievances, the audience investment in this quirky little story builds with Asaei smartly cutting us off at the decisive moment and leaving a pleasing ambiguity about what really happens next.

The seriousness of the scenario is cleverly offset by the beauty of the garden with shots of sunny woodland paths and classical gardens bursting with flowers to which Director of Photography Tanmoye Khan gives a heightened radiance and richness on screen. Vivid colour markers are dotted through the film adding to the slightly amplified mood that Asaei creates with both characters sporting bright yellow pieces in their costume and lurid but sparsely applied eye make-up.

Lyna Dubarry as Nadia and Sandie Von Brockdorff as Victoria must silently convey their inner turmoil reacting to the voiceover and, not meeting until the film’s closing seconds, neither actor utters a word of dialogue until then. Instead, filmed separately they must convince as a couple despite having only one very short and indecisive scene together; but it works and both performers create investment in their portion of the narrative.

That the determination of these characters is marginally undercut by their one-word exchange is particularly enjoyable suggesting an interesting separation between the negative thoughts they run away with and the very different impact of physically meeting. Lost for Words is a strong and enjoyable 5-minute film that warmly and rapidly immerses the viewer in the world of this story and its possible outcomes.

Release Date: Coming Soon

The Reviews Hub Score

Strong and enjoyable

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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