Festival de ‘Usual Suspects’: Milk (1998) de Andrea Arnold

April 20, 2016 § Leave a comment

Eight years before her Cannes Jury Prize-winning feature debut Red Road (2006) and a mere five before her Oscar-winning short film Wasp (2003), Andrea Arnold transitioned from actor to director with this ten minute tale of Hetty, a woman trying – and perhaps failing – to handle the blood-stained tragedy of a stillborn child. It’s always fascinating to explore the work of a filmmaker who would eventually develop a more unique signature style, and Milk is one such work, replete with fixed cameras shots!, dollies! And dreamy focus-pulls! It feels like an early work, yet the most fascinating aspect of this short is – hindsight granted – the way in which it prefigures a future auteur in its tonal and formal shifts. What begins with respectfully composed images of comfortable domesticity ends with a moment of raw, feral honesty, contained within tight and intimate framing. Milk almost preempts Arnold’s adoption of handheld naturalism, an approach very similar to the Dardennes’ in fact. Perhaps the one thing which clearly declares itself from the get-go is Arnold’s deft hand with her performers (having been a performer herself, one could assume), able to nudge them into a place of utter vulnerability and, in doing so, to tease out moments of unadorned humanity, always slightly askew. On this front, Arnold has only gotten better with time.


MILK (1998) from Tope Ogundare on Vimeo.

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