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Film review: 'Domino'

We are led into the intrigue that is Radoslav Radoslavov's film Domino through its creative, yet critically stimulating analysis by Ana-Mariya Sotirova.

(Poster for Domino,

dir. Radoslavov Radoslavov, 2019)

Domino is a filmmaking exercise for creativity that strives to dissect the complexity of human relationships by conveying it through the psychology of the bdsm phenomenon. As practice. And as taboo. And as the desire that leads to a possible transformation. In its core, to submit to, or exercise dominance over another person, in the context of bdsm may be tied to trust, release, or attempts at such states. And this film, too, is an attempt, an experiment and an invitation for reflection.

The characters in Domino communicate unsatisfyingly. The long seconds of silence are empty. It is as if there is nothing to be said, shared, experienced. The time of quietness gives the film a certain mood, almost burdensome, apathetic. Despite the progression of the plot, it is this tone that creates a specific plain quality. This, in turn, affects the culmination and potential catharsis. It neither comes as an absolute surprise, nor does it follow as a result of vivid gradation. But it is significant that the perception of the zenith is subjective - it varies not only from viewer to viewer but also, for example, depending on the way of viewing. The big cinema screen offers an aesthetic experience. And the small computer screen and the ability to be alone with the film, to go back, to pause, to look for details, is how the encounter with the characters can become more intimate. In this case, the peak moment acquires a semantic layer. Of course, it is clear what this climax is. Because of what's happening within the plot, and even more so because of the change in the cinematic means of expression that contrast the ones utilised until that point. The silence is cut through with music and the long takes are replaced by a quick montage.

Perhaps the most memorable is the visual - a precise mise-en-scène which is highly controlled. Each plant has a specific point in the space. We intuitively associate the set design with the personality of the protagonist, who creates a meticulously ordered environment that is at the same time chaotic.

There is no harmony, the diversity of objects is a mirror image of the conflict. Maggie tackles her need to manage her existence by caring for her plants. Living beings, but non-communicative, passive, incapable of the impulses of the nervous system. In the assembled world within the screen, the duration of the shots allows the eye to explore the saturation of the image. To find precisely the control and where it subtly sways with the potential for transformation. To be compelled by the colour palette, its muted hues inviting the perceiver into the inertia and indifference of the film. As they are the fundamental moods, forming part of the work’s biggest significance.

Domino holds within itself the charm of the student film. It achieves interesting shots despite the constraints of the conditions (or the deliberate self-limitation of possibilities in order for the whole activity to be an exercise for creativity?). Static camera, two spaces, minimal dialogue. The rustling sounds of the jacket and the leather costume, standing out in the overwhelming silence. Music in the moment of its happening. A film that is naive, in the sense of not-yet-reached life experience, but also promising that the creative people behind it will now begin to form a distinct expression of their ideas. In fact, exactly like the created characters who are in the process of getting to know themselves, their own desires and longings. Even the strange, contradictory, eccentric ones.

-> Watch Domino through this link, password: radthrillfilms.

-> Learn more about the director and cinematographer Radoslav Radoslavov via his website.


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