Movie : The roots of you
Director: Jes Gislason
” No guilt is forgotten so long as the conscience still knows of it.”
-Stefan Zweig, Beware of Pity
The Story revolves around the relationship of two sisters, Rose and Elsa. Sisters both attached yet abhorrent towards one another. There appears a certain kind of crack in their relationship after Rose is imprisoned for the murder of their parents. However, there is a catch. Rose is devoid of any memory involving the murder of their parents. On the contrary she believes she is innocent.
It is evident that Elsa has tried to make her remember the repugnant events on countless occasions. Thus far she has been unsuccessful. Elsa tries to do the same for one last time. She visits the prison to confront her. In the process Elsa experiences a horrific epiphany leading to an agonizing yet bittersweet ending. An ending perhaps that can also be referred to as a beginning. It is a tale about actions, the past and the trauma concealed within it and their dire consequences.
The title indicates a part of the human psyche that is seldom investigated. A part that most human beings run away from. The word root suggests occurences in the past that plays a potent role in the narrative. As if a troubled , meandering consciousness is trying to run away from an unpleasant truth. A truth that shall demolish her carefully constructed facade. A tale that she told herself over and over again.
The walls in the first scene indicate a perpetual sense of confinement that lingers around throughout the movie. Rose and Elsa are trapped. Perhaps as individuals or as personas. An invisible tussle impedes Elsa. Elsa appears befuddled. Mostly because she is trapped in the labyrinth of deception that she ironically devised herself. The intent was to run away from the past. A ruthless, relentless past with very little to salvage out of.
The dexterous use of light and shadow adds depth to the perpetual tussle of the protagonist. A chiaroscuro of guilt and innocence , of courage and fear.
One would often feel that Rose and Elsa are two parts of the same coin eternally contradicting one another. An avid cinephile would be reminded of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. A flawless deconstruction of the actual person behind the persona or several personas.
The conscious and the unconscious are each given a tale to narrate in the movie. Very little separates the two stories. A hovering sense of guilt and isolation, and an unnerving claustrophobia makes the narrative more engaging and weirdly human.
It also faintly touches upon the darker contours of desire. The performances in the movie elevate the story to a whole different level.
The performances of Audrey L’Ebrellec as Elsa and Jacqueline Berces as Rose brim with confidence and intensity. They turn the characters into relatable next door neighbors, friends or family members. They invoke a sense of empathy within the audience.
The concepts of sound and space have been explored and employed in the most adroit way. The line “don’t open the door” is perhaps a signal sent intentionally to the unconscious of a person trying desperately to avoid facing the truth. Another line :
“I am already dead” are repeated visitations, utterings by the person imprisoned, resembling her exact point of trauma.
The burden of secrets often exists without an ear. An ear to listen, understand and perhaps empathize.
The protagonist finds saving solace in the morning. Her one last chance to severe a sorrowful past and move ahead as indicated by a sunny morning. A day that has survived the dreads of a long and hard night.