A Bitter Pill

Directed by Ashutosh Jha | Review by Antonio Rozich

What happened? If a film manages to plant this question into the audience’s head, it’s doing its job right. A Bitter Pill by Ashutosh Jha manages to deliver just that in merely 11 minutes – you can almost take the film as a crash course on how to create suspense, drama and intrigue while keeping everything simple.

In the first seconds, the audience is introduced to the main cast – a young couple. It’s interesting to point out how in these first few seconds you already know more than you even realize. The way the woman and the man are presented clearly shows it’s a long relationship instead of a short one for example. This accumulates to a well-done scene setup.

As the film moves on, it becomes more and more apparent that something is wrong. The woman is bothered by something she’s having trouble to admit and the man worries while simultaneously trying to get back on a regular track. Each scene is another suspense build up as more and more is revealed, but less and less is known. Although for the most part, the audience observes the story from her point of view, the questions you might ask yourselves will likely be the ones the man asks as well. It’s a perfectly balanced dance of professional filmmaking and natural human intrigue.

Without revealing “what happened”, it’s safe to say how the plot isn’t anything special, but it doesn’t have to be – in this case, that’s of little if no importance at all. What matters is the delivery of the simple story and letting the audience know what’s happening and what might be happening without spilling the beans and ruining the experience.

The film won’t provide an enormous “entertainment satisfaction”, but it will provide something else. If you’re a young filmmaker who’s just starting, this short film is a perfect example how to build up the story and have the audience at the edge of their seats. As for experienced filmmakers and average audience – it’s a film that won’t disappoint – that’s for sure.

To distance ourselves from the technical part of the film, let’s move on to the message of the film. The main protagonist is the female lead and the story revolves around the mysterious problem she’s having. The problem is the type that often gets ignored when it shouldn’t, swiped under the carpet when it should be out in the open. When the viewer initially finds out, he or she might think it’s been said a million times by now and the film doesn’t bring anything new. But that brings up a question: Why is there a need to speak about the same problem for a millionth time? Shouldn’t it have been resolved by now? A bitter pill indeed.

 

Antonio Rozich is a seasoned copywriter and the chief editor for Cult Critic – meaning, if you’re a filmmaker you’ll either love or hate him. Besides his usual copywriting, he also helps filmmakers with their screenplays by editing them and finding the ways to improve the initial filmmaker’s idea. When all of that is done, he turns to his true & original love: writing flash fiction filled with philosophy, life and cake metaphors.