Student short film «Domino» by young Bulgarian filmmaker Radoslav Radoslavov is a very original and non-standard cinematic experience.
As a rule, no one expects something surprising from a student project. The student works are usually shot in one location and with two or three actors. Probably, any film festival has its own graveyard of student films with similar locations and similar characters with one-type dialogues. Such films have the same cliches: man and woman meet in a cafe, park, home, etc. They have a conversation about love, life, marriage, divorce, etc. At best, there’s humor there.
On the one hand, the film by Radoslav Radoslavov quite fits into the concept of «student cinema». All the action of the film takes place in one location. There are only three actors (Tsvetina Petrova, Konstantin Sokolov, Stanislav Kondov). The film has dialogues between the characters including skype conversations. On the other hand, the film demonstrates the director’s bold steps towards creating his own film language. The director is not afraid to experiment, but his experiment works for the story, but not an end in itself. That is why this work standing out against many student films.
From the first shots, there is a strange feeling: it seems that the film is shot so artlessly and very simply that it cannot be an accident. At the end of the film, we realize that such a documentary shooting with a static camera is not an accident. On the contrary, it is one of the most important parts of the author’s idea.
There is another interesting visual effect in the film: a camera shows a frame bounded on two sides by walls. Such a composition gives an interesting effect: it looks like a vertical shot. We see several scenes in this format, and this game with space imperceptibly gives rise to the special atmosphere. The viewer is forced to use imagination, as at some point the action takes place behind the frames.
The main character Maggie is a student filmmaker who can’t finish her diploma film. She’s lonely and unhappy. She is not satisfied with her relationship with boyfriend, who lives in another country now. Even when they communicate through a laptop, they do not find mutual understanding. Only home flowers brighten up her loneliness and depression. These are the only living things she cares about.
The only man who comes to her house is her client. But we are not talking about sexual relations, as it may seem at the beginning of the film. Maggie arranges the BDSM sessions for this man. This is her job, which her boyfriend does not like. However, Maggie at some point gives vent to emotions and takes out her grievances.
The film very subtly shows the mechanism of power, submission, domination and the genesis of violence. Maggie cannot get her boyfriend back. She don’t have good communication with him. And her weakness and depression degenerate into sadism and cruelty. She takes revenge on her man through violence against the client.
Tsvetina Petrova looks very organic in the role of the suffering girl. All the scenes of the film look as if they were filmed by a hidden camera. There is no feeling that we are looking at actors playing. The director achieves the rare effect when the fiction film looks like a documentary. But this effect is important to the director not in itself, but for the film culmination. That is why the film «Domino» is an extraordinary work, demonstrating the director’s unconventional thinking and also the professional skills of the film crew.