The first impression from the beautifully poetic short film Dust is that it must be watched at least several times to grasp the array of complexity and essential themes. Written and directed by the talented Serena Giordano, this cinematic artwork is genuine and thought-provoking.
The film’s opening shots establish the geography most creatively – we witness close and medium shots of candles, frescos and Jesus’s crucifixion. Then, Giordano doesn’t let us see the bigger picture. The protagonists are covered from the back, and all we hear are whispers of condolences. There’s something intimidating in the way we receive these words told in repetition, but that’s purely intuitive. Film language is as present as it could be in the exposition, as the director relies on symbol vs detail and signified vs signifier.
There’s only one other scene after the titles, and it’s an intensely dramatic one between the siblings, Rossella and Guglielmo. Rossella is visibly broken, but her brother tries to cover his wounds. While the former is angry, exposed and vulnerable, the latter is seemingly calm, melancholy and utterly sad. As the scene plays out with the rising of action and catharsis included, the subtext slowly unravels, and the story achieves the concept's intention – to show that grieving works differently for everyone.
Even though the characters suffer and are tempted inside a small room, which is the film's primary setting, this creative group of filmmakers produce the best out of it. The production design, camera & lighting, sound and mise-en-scene are executed flawlessly. Each element of the design, with emphasis on the mirror (figuratively speaking - is film mirror or window), is used for the purpose of telling the story. The same applies to the photographs, the curtain (we witness the brother grabbing the curtain in a way to exploit suppressed emotions), the table and even the dust particles that the camera captures beautifully. The closing sequence from when the young sister points her finger to the scene's exit contrasts nicely with the introduction. If we had static shots in the first scene, then the second uses dynamic so that to enhance the various grammar techniques and basically to show what the artists are capable of even in a limited working environment.
In addition, the sound design is essential for the production as much as the camera is. As mentioned prior, the background noise, the chatter from outside and the ensemble’s diction and foley are engineered by following professional industry standards. On top of that is the lyrical Italian language that undoubtedly offers the film a whole new dimension.
With all sides and strengths covered, this review enthusiastically concludes that Dust is a short film that showcases a successful collaborative effort. The end results are delightful, which wouldn't have been the case if all crew members and the cast didn't put their best. Judging from this film alone, the cinema, especially the Italian cinematography, should be prepared for many new great things by Serena Giordano and the creative artists involved.