It’s hard to say what surprised us most about the short film ‘Cycle’: the storyline, the strange and fascinating atmosphere, or the freshness given by the genuine talent and youth of the director. Well, at 23 years old, Nazar Balanov gives us a project so different from anything we’ve seen before and so well constructed that we might even think we’re in front of a directorial vision destined for success. We know that the underlying theme of this short film is not new in itself, but the “demonic” consistency of this dive into the fears and failures of a young artist has the rare quality of sticking to the viewer’s retina and skin. The pretext has something of the black magic of a novel like “Doctor Faustus” by Thomas Mann, while the whole story unfolds before us like a long and agonizing confrontation with inner demons. Finally, we are faced with a “mise en abime” of the act of creating, just as we witness the process by which the work ends up killing its creator.

 

This short film is an insight into the creative lab of a young musician who, absolutely ticking off the damned artist pattern, embraces art as both a form of self-healing and a form of self-destruction. The protagonist is about to cross the line between devotion to his work and the world of inner chimeras.

 

There is something almost Mephistophelian in all this inner pain that the protagonist sometimes experiences in a voluptuous way, other times at the edge of the abyss of his own fears. Nazar Balanov creates a haunting portrait, a tragic character haunted by the ghost of a father both brilliant and evil, doomed to social failure because of his “organic” passion for music. Music, in fact, turns into an obsession, a false refuge of a sick soul that splits into a perpetual “cycle” of emotional self-flagellation. The theme of the double thus marks a central pivot, triggering a terrifying and magnetic sensory exploration of a nightmare whose atmosphere, in some places, approaches the strange universes of David Lynch. Far from being an easy project to digest, ‘Cycle’ may not be an experience for every type of viewer. But those niche moviegoers looking for an atypical short film will be more than satisfied.

 

For its gloomy and poetic atmosphere and for the force with which it manages to trap the viewer in the nightmarish vortex of a sick soul, ‘Cycle’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the September 2022 edition of TMFF.

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