A young couple is in the heat of the action. She asks for a condom, but he doesn’t have one.
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DIAGONALE by Anne Thorens
“Based around a situation that most have experienced, or at the very least can relate to, Anne Thorens’ five-minute short Diagonale (Diagonal) depicts a passionate night between a young couple, which gets derailed when neither has a condom. One could argue that this premise has already been depicted many times, but writer/director Thorens infuses her film with so much authenticity, exposing the depth of the situation with great sensitivity and subtlety, that it might feel uncomfortably real for some.
You don’t need to look far to get an idea of where Diagonale’s narrative came from. Feeling strong pressure from a partner, and not being listened to, is unfortunately not that uncommon. However, it was the different perceptions of the event, from both parties, that planted the seed for this film. Having experienced a similar situation herself, which stayed with her long after, Thorens was then confronted with the fact that her partner had a different recollection of the night. Even being told that she should have been clearer when saying no.
And that is the infuriating part of the situation – the trauma is not acknowledged. As a woman, I found the film incredibly effective and genuine, but having spoken to the male members of the S/W team, it seems like Thorens’ lens made her female character’s emotional experience impactful for them as well (describing the ending as “really hitting you in a dark place”). The power of the female gaze!
Thorens shapes her film in a way that lets the audience process the events as the night unfolds, without ever being judgemental. “This film is not an answer, it’s made like a question”, she tells us while explaining how she wanted to tackle the power dynamic between a woman and a man in this situation. The authenticity in her screenplay is clear, the subtlety and nuances of the situation are all there in the dialogue and the pacing. A line gets crossed but when the film ends, we can’t really pinpoint the exact moment its breached, and arguably everyone could have a different idea of when it happens.
By shooting the film as a single take, in the one location, the audience is never allowed a break from the escalating and insidious atmosphere. While the tension between the two characters gets more and more palpable, the nuances of the situation only confront us with her trauma when it is already too late. The tightening of the frame contributes to that atmosphere, making us feel suffocated by his pressure and his refusal to listen. As the camera settles on the female character’s face for the conclusion of the short, it makes for an impressive and emotionally powerful gut-punch, instantly provoking you to quickly question all that came before – exactly as the director intended.
While Thorens’ approach sets the film for success, its effectiveness also relies heavily on the performances of the two lead actors (Leonor Oberson and Cyprien Colombo) and the authenticity of the chemistry between them. Thorens explains that the rehearsal process was vital in allowing the pair to find their bearings and get comfortable with one another, especially with the one-shot approach to the shoot.” – S/W Curator Céline Roustan
CAST / CASTING
Her/Elle : Leonor Oberson
Him/Lui : Cyprien Colombo
CREW / EQUIPE TECHNIQUE
Director/Réalisatrice : Anne Thorens
Screenplay/Scénario : Anne Thorens
Producer/Production : Anne Thorens with the support of imaginastudio
Director of Photography/Chef opérateur : Oskar Rosetti
Sound/Son : Bjorn Cornelius
Editor/Montage : Bruno Mathé
Sound Design/Mixage : Benjamin Roa
Director assistant/Assistant réalisateur : Théo Donatantonio
First Grip/1er Électricien: Thibaud Maury
Second Grip/Second Électricien: Tamara Castagnoli
Make up artist/Maquillage : Prune Moeckli
First dop assistant/Premier assistant caméra : Arnaud Portalier
Second dop assistant/Second assistant caméra : Léon Orlandi
Colorist/Étalonnage : Léon Orlandi
Reproduced on this channel with the permission of the filmmakers.