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Many experimental filmmakers have chosen to defy the pre-established narrative structures and the spectators’ horizon of expectation as one of their most important artistic beliefs. Obviously, these elements do not constitute a quality of a film (stylistic “bizarreness” is not from the beginning a self-sufficient value), but, on the contrary, they push the directorial vision to reach the aesthetic quality of a product accessing a subtler interaction with the viewer. This is the case with the ‘Decrescendo’ short film, which can be characterized by unpredictability and by aesthetic mainstays focused on a rather anti-narrative dimension, while breaking the distance between the director’s eye and the actions of the characters, to plunge into a painful exploration of an apparently inexplicable madness. Without “delighting” her viewers with a structured epic thread, Olivia Chiesi creates an extreme project where the narrative ellipse triggers a visceral experience. The title of her short film suggests a descent into the depths of a soul spontaneously touched by suffering, where the visual and acoustic violence is combined with the balanced, almost dream-like aesthetic of the fictional universe in a striking counterpoint.

On the pretext of a visit after two years of absence of a “prodigal son”, the director reconfigures in her project a “ferocious” organic interaction in which the event unfolding slips into a striking awareness of physical pain. Thus, the aim of this short film goes beyond an apparent confrontation between a son and a Freudian father, in order to force the limits of the cinematographic language, while inducing the spectator an intense synesthetic discomfort. 

As a consequence, not only the distance between the director’s eye and the actions of the characters is broken, but also that of between the viewer and the protagonist, culminating in an almost total fusion of two identities. The act of watching becomes, not only in a metaphorical dimension, a participatory, carnal act, since physical pain is no longer an artificial construct hidden behind a character’s body, but a tangible sensory reality similar to a cluster headache. This acute state of agony through which the viewer enters the mind of the protagonist is professionally orchestrated by Olivia Chiesi, whose style proves a coherent interweaving of a bold vision and a convincing manipulation of the cinematic language.

Thus, Decrescendo impresses not only by the obvious talent of a filmmaker who forces the limits of a conventional narrative, but also by its aesthetic that transforms the act of watching into a vivid, impactful experience.

Written by Andrei C. Serban

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