Family relationships are such a broad topic that it is one of the constant concerns of many directors. Joseph Betros, too, is concerned with the nuances defining the emotional relationships between parents and children, and his short film, ‘Duke‘, is a beautiful result that avoids a simplistic or predictable structure. In fact, the action of this short film is so temperate, so subtle in terms of cinematic construction, that the project implies rather a state of mind, a special atmosphere than a catchy narrative thread. And yet, it is precisely this “implosive-ness”, built through mute, repressed dialogues, that gives a special force to this emotional encounter between a father and his son. Far from opting for an explicit story, which proposes a detailed foray into the anatomy of a father-son relationship, the director prefers the ellipse as the main engine of defining this atmosphere that is as poetic, as full of more or less guilty ways of being quiet. The characters remain, for the most part, hermetic, even if their suffering seems to solidify before our eyes in a tender imagery, in syncopated domestic gestures or in gazes touched by the shadow of a mute tragedy. But, despite this oppressive, almost unbreathable air that fills the physical and mental space between the two protagonists and their loneliness, the emotional chemistry with the spectator occurs and the message transits all this stillness.


Precisely because of this stylistic strategy chosen by Joseph Betros, any attempt to summarize in a few words the motivations of the characters, the emotional substrates that justify their gestures would fail to express the evocative force of this extremely well-dosed atmosphere leading to the final redemption. In fact, this is specific of all films for which the suggestion is more important than the concreteness of a conventional narrative, where the unspoken words are more important than the ones we can hear. Fortunately, these ellipses around which the director builds his project do not reach a distant elitism or a sterile structure, but, on the contrary, they manage to preserve and enhance the human warmth of the characters facing an emotional crisis, the moment when the past must be permanently detached from the present. The image thus takes a central place, and, through the talent of the director, along with that of the actors, it reaches a degree of sensitive and intelligent refinement. ‘Duke’ is a short film that impresses both by the emotional energy of the characters and by its balanced construction.