Carmen Bryce checks out Noel Brady’s latest short film, Alicia’s Mask, which was awarded Best Film at the OIC media Shorts in the Lighthouse Cinema this week.
Despite or in fact, due to its brevity, Noel Brady’s six-minute long short Alicia’s Mask, that deals with the emotive issue of rape, packs a powerful punch.
We are introduced to Alicia, a beautiful young woman who is making an introduction video for her new online dating profile. We see an older man in front of a computer, watching her video. Alicia starts with her introduction, “Hi, I’m Alicia. I’m a Pisces and I love long walks in the rain.” She sighs, embarrassed at how cliché her speel is. She starts again. “Hi, I’m Alicia,’ but falters. She takes a sip of wine, then another. We notice a bottle of pills on the table.
Alicia tries again to introduce herself, and again, and again, never getting past her starting point. She breaks down in tears and we see the anguish on her face as she fights fuzzy flashbacks of a girl only semi-conscious on a bed wearing a red dress.
The film is shot in black and white so the flash of red in the fragmented flashbacks creates a sense of unease as we wait for Alicia to reveal the terrible truth she’s struggling to bury. Another flashback of the outline of a man entering the room, closing the door behind him, sitting on the bed and stroking the girl’s leg.
Alicia starts filming again with the words, “My name is Alicia Heart and I was raped a year ago today.…” On the flip side we realise that the older man watching the video unfold is a detective with an arrest warrant for the man Alicia names on tape.
Dealing with the highly sensitive issue of rape within a few minutes is a challenge that runs the risk of appearing flippant or one-dimensional, but it’s the conciseness and simplicity of the piece that makes it so effective.
Doey Mulligan as Alicia gives an amendable performance as a broken young woman struggling to put her life back together after experiencing the horrors of rape.
Within a few minutes, we journey with the actress through a multitude of emotion – denial, shame (“Maybe I shouldn’t have worn that dress,” she suggests), anger, resignation, grief, and finally arrive at the first step of her recovery – confronting her painful reality.
In a similar way to the director’s last film, True-D, Alicia’s Mask exams harrowing subjects in a creative and effective way.
True-D, a short film that looks at the ruthlessness of the recession and the victims it leaves in its wake, also packs a punch within minutes. Not unlike Alicia’s Mask, it highlights how courage and human compassion can bring a person back from the brink.
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