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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gritty Drama "Fra Asken" Addresses The Ugly Reality of the Aftermath of Violence

"FRA ASKEN" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 10:30
Company:  True Norse Films

We open on the back of a van in the middle of the woods.  A teenaged girl under attack (Madeline Marsh) screams and cries from somewhere inside the vehicle, but no one hears.

To say any more would spoil the film, but it's a dark and gritty road metaphorical road we travel as the audience of writer/director Kjell Kvanbeck's latest short film.

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN . . . 

"Fra Asken" is a minimalist drama shot with a pseudo-documentary feel.  The story itself unfolds, for the most part, in a very grounded and realistic world in which a victim of violence discovers her world shrinking upon itself.

If I can say anything about the film, it is that mood rules the day.  The ambience of Kvanbeck's film world is overwhelming.  The isolation we feel is choking -- literally, there is one line of dialogue in the entire film (not counting the wordless, anguished screams we hear in the beginning).  The world is a lonely, miserable place to be, where everyone is so wrapped up in doing whatever they are busy doing at the moment that they can't be bothered to offer a helping hand, even to someone who is clearly hurting.

Some of the writing choices toward the end don't make sense -- I can't say too much without giving huge spoilers away, but basically my problem with it is that first of all, I don't understand how a particular crime goes unpunished, for instance, and second of all I don't follow the protagonist's ultimate decision.  Even if it can be explained away, it doesn't make for much of a satisfying conclusion.

Still, "Fra Asken" does make you question the world we're taught to accept as children -- the world that the poor protagonist in this film no doubt was taught about, before she was attacked: a world where people are basically good, and where those who are hurt can be helped, and where those who hurt others are always punished.

The real world, "Fra Asken" seems to be saying, is far more complicated and dark.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  Some writing choices don't make sense, particularly as the suspense builds.  For instance, why would she not go to the police?  I can't say much more than that without unleashing tons of spoilers.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Kvanbeck's directing style takes on a documentary feel, following handheld as our protagonist travels from location to location.  Per Kvanbeck's cinematography helps create some stirring outdoor shots.
Editing: 4 / 5.  There's a grungy looking aesthetic and grain and grit all over the place, which really brought the film down to Earth a bit.  Some of the cuts shuddered from shot to shot, which added some extra unease.  
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  The music is composed by Kvanbeck, Ed Willet and Ryan Rusch.  There's a lot of static in the dialogue recording, but the volumes levels are fairly stable though.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  While her performance is somewhat one note, Marsh does well with what she has.  Martin Curry has little onscreen time but does OK with what he has to work with.

Final Grade: 3.4 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Fra Asken" when it comes out, but until then follow its progress to your screen on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!