Friday, 14 January 2011

Analysis of 'Detour' directed by Kodjo Akeseh Tsakpo, 2008

The short film funded by Digital Shorts Plus received critical acclaiment after being distributed at many film festivals over the world; from Berlin to Mexico to London. It was so highly received that it won the best short film at 'Screamfest' in Los Angeles in 2008. It is a twelve minute drama that has an unsettling blueish/grayish hue throughout establishing a dark mood that forebodes the events that take place. The story depicts a middle-aged man unable to find contentment and forget his past after his daughter's suicide. The audience understands that he want to avenge his daughter's death by getting revenge of the main that claims to be able to predict a person's death. 
This short film caught my eye as the use of flash-backs in time to explain the narrative taking place in the present created a tense and anxious atmosphere. The consistent cutting from past to present increases the audience's anticipation and keeps them engaged as they try to un-puzzle the events that are not in chronological order. Many close-up camera shots are used which brings emphasis to the depth of their emotions and also creates a more realistic feel through some of the use of hand-held camera work. For example, when the man's daughter is shown crying before overdosing on drugs there is a lot of kinetic camera work showing her close up crying. It makes the scene very expressive and gritty looking as you can see the makeup running down her face and the texture of her skin. Much of the short film is filmed in low key lighting helping the audience establish who the sinister characters are and increase tension. The low budget is evident throughout but is important in creating a sense of realism. 
The characters seem very isolated and alone throughout the film adding to the anxiety of the audience and makes them question what the isolation could be foreboding. There are no other cars on the road and the cafe they sit in is very empty and deserted. It could be symbolic of how both the character's have no family and are very alone in life; the 'hitchhiker' even states that he has no loved ones. There are connotations of a thriller film such as the quick cross-cutting editing of some of the actions, for example when the motorist is putting the photo back in his wallet. Furthermore, the use of unknown actors makes the entire emphasis on their cinematic characters without any interferences of reputations or previous known works. 

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