Charlotte McGowan-Griffin - 2000


Moody and atmospheric; 'Black Heart' makes disturbing viewing.

The focus of the film is a young girl - who expresses a deep psychological obsession with the colour BLACK.

The obsession appears to cloak itself within her apparent Gothic lifestyle: her room is heavily adorned with an eclectic assortments of objects - either black by their very nature, or which have been subject to some terrible macabre makeover!

The scene in which she discovers that a tiny dead bird has been left on her doorstep; and takes it in to join the rest of her trophies, only confirms the association between the colour black, and death.

However, it is clear that she is never in control of  her situation - as she resides herself to whatever fate has prepared for her.
Her patience is only broken momentarily, from time-to-time, when she goes to a mirror to check her physical appearance - for any outward signs that the Blackness she feels inside is growing?

Although parts of this film are shot outside; these only ever appear in the form of flashbacks - and, the clever use of tight camera shots retain the films sense of claustrophobia to such a degree that true empathy is never lost with the character's plight.
In fact, even reminiscing on, what should have been, happier times; her whole perception appears to have been tainted by the present - in the way that her appearance is represented in these memories.
Even then the Grim Reaper is watching and waiting - in the form of a giant looming figure cast into the fibreglass shell of a fairground ride.

Towards the end of the film, you realise that time has been almost static; and you find yourself, to all extensive purposes, back with the opening shot.

Because the nature of the film is so deeply personal and private; you can't help feeling a bit of a voyeur; and, this only heightens the atmosphere of vulnerability that the film maker is trying to portray.

Although, in story time, we have only progressed through mere moments of this young girls solitary existence; we can assume by this, that her life is suspended in a repetitive cycle of idleness; and to have tried to show any more if it, would have meant repeating the same routines over, and over again for the benefit of the camera - which was not the point that the filmmaker was making!

The moment of her death is finally tackled (if only in the form of yet another dream sequence), when the young girl awakens to find herself in a hospital bed - following an emergency amputation.
But, to her obvious terror, her own blackened heart has been removed, and rests discarded on the linen sheets of her bed!

      - Why is she still all alone - even in the Hospital?
         - How could she have survived such a procedure?
            - Is she in the recovery ward, or a morgue?

If you ever have the opportunity to see it in it's final cut: at a film festival or alike; I urge you to take a look.  Charlotte McGowan-Griffin's Black Heart is short (even by short film standards), but it packs a punch!

Film review by S. Ravenspine



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