Keep Mum (2019)
Christmas thrills - the frenzied oscillation of memories, images and sensations that swarm the trauma-afflicted psyche
22 December 2021
Warning: Spoilers
It's cold - I don't know why but I can feel it, probably something in the light, or is it the way she's breathing, or the tension in her posture as she rams the shovel into the earth? A few quick cuts, accompanied by a throbbing heartbeat and ticking clock, all evocative of dissociation, take her from her garden into a room twinkling with Christmas lights. There's a voice: "Mum, what are you doing?" Now she's dancing to hard rock. She's wearing a white shirt splattered with blood and there's blood on the walls too, she's laughing maniacally, beside herself, she's wearing a Christmas wreath as a Dionysian crown. We see the world as she sees it, spinning, chaotic, an agony of confusion. She collapses at the foot of the stairs and the camera glimpses her from above, down the stairwell. The stairwell, like a spiralled portal, momentarily sucks us out of the protagonist's point of view - into someone else's, because she's not alone. There's a boy.

She's staring into the washing machine, washing the bloodied shirt, as if in the washing machine she were searching for an answer, or a way out. Then, "Boo!" The boy pops up behind her and she turns in shock and he's gone. There's also a teddybear, now above the cabinet in the bathroom, now on a pebble beach at the foot of a chalky white cliff, this time oozing blood from its chest, and again in the boy's hands when he's suddenly next to her in the car - parked at the top of the cliff - speaking to her. The boy's voice is an otherworldly, hollow echo: "it was just an accident, Mum."

A shovel, a bloodied shirt, a cliff, a teddybear oozing blood, an "accident" - as the film progresses, it's up to us to join the dots.

But of course the boy is not really outside her, but a part of her, and we're with Mum all the way. When we watch her, we are her watching herself. Keep Mum is a film about dissociation, projection, the frenzied oscillation of memories, images and sensations that swarm the trauma-afflicted psyche. With these comes also a cocktail of emotions: ecstasy, fear, guilt and grief - with its various "stages," but most prominently denial and bargaining, as she tries to piece together, while struggling to hold herself together, what she did the night before and before that. - Tom Denman tomdenman@info.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

Recently Viewed