In world cinema, there are many excellent films based on a character’s life suffering from strange diseases or syndromes. Of course, the choice of a theme per se doesn’t certify the quality of a project, but the intuition with which the director identifies the potential of such an element is of decisive importance. ‘Deus Ex Machina‘ is such an example that catches you from the first moments through the bizarreness of its intrigue and the vertigo of events that keep you breathless. Through this short film, the director Langlois Jessy proves his talent for creating suspense without exceeding at the narrative level the area of a rather… clinical realism. And yet, his project has all the ingredients of an impressive thriller, created from evanescent but impactful enough, shades and contours to catch the viewer in a mix of emotions and expectations. The result has something of the atmosphere of films like “Memento”, “Shutter Island” or “Inland Empire”, while the sometimes-furious dynamism of the frames is reminiscent of the aesthetics of creators like Gaspar Noé.
When Joel finally finds his father, who has abandoned his family, he discovers the real reasons for the decision of his parent. No, it is not the indifference or the impossibility of love but a mysterious disease that prevents the old man from recognizing people’s faces: Prosopagnosia.
Just as the character of the father fails to identify the faces of those he loves, so the director builds his short film, throwing us into a cobweb of images, impressions and bits of confessions that emerge from the protagonist’s inner monologue. It is almost impossible to follow the evolution of the conflict that generates all this explosion of sensations that shatters the central thread of events in a kaleidoscope of secondary stories on the border between reality and fiction. Well, yes, this choice to fragment the sequence of events in a chaotic chronology can be quite a risk since it might dilute the stakes of the narrative core. But Langlois Jessy manages to turn everything into an advantage, building a dense cinematic material that sustains a constant tension, a permanent state of alert melted into a succession of professionally executed frames. Maybe this density of cinematic construction will convince you to see ‘Deus Ex Machina’ once again, to mentally reconfigure all the pieces of this dizzying puzzle. But doesn’t any memorable project do that?
For the talent with which the director builds the suspense in a maze of images and sensations executed with professionalism, ‘Deus Ex Machina’ was awarded the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the July 2021 edition of TMFF.