Fiction is not necessarily a big lie, but life can be a big fiction. ‘Define Delphine‘ is a short film exploring the consistency of these two dimensions that govern the life of an aspiring writer, in an obscure universe haunted by deceptive shadows. Not coincidentally, Fábio Brandão forces the barriers between reality and imagination so much that his project seems to be a concentric trap designed to capture its viewer in the dark corners of a troubled mind. The narrative strategies that define this gloomy panorama of the soul of a writer in search of the perfect diegetic formula form a deceptive inner “map” that, on the principle of matryoshka dolls, permanently reverses the poles of power between appearance and essence. In other words, the spectator, just like the main character, is unable to discern the palpable boundaries between truth and fiction or between the multiple social or literary avatars of the protagonist. Therefore, we witness the anatomy of a madness shaking both the existence of the characters and the landmarks of the viewer who gets lost in this morbid carnival of ghosts.

 

Everything seems an intriguing combination between the atmosphere of Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”, the thrills of Wes Craven’s films and the twisted psychology of Darren Aronofsky’s characters. In fact, the central female character is, like the Aronofsky’s “white swan”, in search of a perfection that pushes her, without realizing it, towards her own damnation. But perhaps the even more shocking truth that the young writer will discover is that another hand is writing her own story from a universe that is inaccessible to her. The character and the author become two edges of the same sword, while the creation becomes an autophagic gesture.

 

Through this dizzying mix of narrative perspectives, Fábio Brandão gives the project both a Gothic and evanescent consistency, intelligently operating suggestive transitions, backed by haunting music. Despite some directorial hesitating choices, his short film is a dense and challenging experience, a nightmare within a nightmare, trying to capture the fictional mechanisms that trigger terror. The result is not a “classic” horror, but a consistent and well-conducted project that highlights a promising directorial imagination. ‘Define Delphine’ is a film that will satisfy both the tastes of twisted experimental lovers and those of a demanding audience, looking for new ways to create and understand the horror genre.

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