Skemerson

2019-05-03 08:05
 
Pietie Beyers, Elize Cawoof and Anneke Weidemann i

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

A young man decides to take his own life. On his way to the Bloukrans bridge, he spends one last night at the family holiday home.

He stands on the bridge, about to meet his fate, when he hears the laugh—her laugh.

It is the beginning of a weekend that changes three lives: A young woman, her frail mother, and the young man discover a universal language of truth.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

You know when films are more about teaching you about life’s morality than entertaining you? They can sometimes come off as obnoxious as if the filmmaker has somehow figured out all of life’s difficulties and treats the audience like simple-minded folk that need to be preached to. But sometimes, this kind of film hits it just right, laying bare the characters with all their flaws to show how human people can be.

Skemerson is a brutally honest film about the human psyche, the way that life can knock us down to a point where we don’t think we’ll ever get back up - but there’s always hope just around the corner waiting to pull us right onto our feet. It’s incredibly slow, the cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, and if you or a loved one are going through the difficulties of mental illness, it might just make you feel a little less alone.

Set in the stunning Tsitsikamma landscape around Bloukrans Bridge, Skella visits his family’s holiday home with some tragic plans. While reminiscing on the bridge, he bumps into a daughter and her sick mother as they prepare for her inevitable fate.

The description should make it obvious that Skemerson is a melancholic film, but it’s an authentic portrayal of mental illness and how it can break down a person’s mind and will. Pietie Beyers (Sy Klink Soos Lente) wrote and stars in the lead of this thinkpiece, which is supposedly inspired by actual events. It's clear that Beyers has had some intimate experience with an imbalance of the mind, and uses a stream of consciousness style similar to William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury to convey that irrational thought process that takes place in an unhinged brain. Nothing plays out like a traditional film and leans more towards an experimental art film, but the gorgeous scenery coupled with the fantastic acting of Beyers, Anneke Weidemann and the exquisite Elize Cawood makes it a cathartic watch for audiences with a little sorrow in their lives.

I do have to concur that it might be a little too slow and that sometimes you lose the thread of the story and nod off to other busy thoughts. There are only three main characters with just a voice note and a helpful petrol attendant in between, and the dialogue was just too sparse with many scenes where a few more words could have helped keep the audience’s attention for longer.

Despite these criticisms, Skemerson remains a profound film that will evoke heartache and sorrow, but doesn’t leave the audience with that terrible void - instead, it offers help and hope at the end by revealing the true intentions of its filmmakers. And maybe just the right person will see it.

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