Directed by Mohsen el Shwady | Review by Moumita DebMohsen Shwady delves into a distinctive theme of a hypothetical outlook to positive emotions and its constant conflict with negative emotions. He seeks to strike a harmonious balance between an optimistic attitude to life pitted against the pessimistic that manifests itself in diverse situations.
This pessimism is deeply embedded within the strongly emerging field of positive psychology brought forth through the brilliant portrayal of typical characters that sync perfectly with the storyline. The film centers around four characters… Life being most ironically the 5th one.
The experience of positive emotions broadens thought-action repertoires for one of the characters, which in turn serves to build upon his great conviction in the positive aspects of life. He rejoices at the sight of life’s simple pleasures, symbolized here by the lofty mountains. The picturesque landscape offers a source of eternal joy to him. He climbs higher and higher, willing to conquer all the impediments he encounters on the way. He wants to command a better view of the captivating vista, not plagued by negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and despair. The capacity to experience positive emotions serves as an excellent source of strength in him that teaches him to accept life’s simple challenges with a smile which is the key to optimal wellbeing.
Uncompromisingly happy in all situations and inherently soft by nature, he derives an outlandish joy even at the darkest hour of defeat. Essentially mild in disposition and always displaying an upbeat attitude, he, however, lacks the fire of rebellion to strike back against injustice that he conjectures being done on the captive lady. This lady is seeking emancipation from the clutches of the apparent tyrant whose smart strategy survives as he wins in every situation because of his overpowering attitude of dominance. Being manipulative as well he readily imposes this attitude on the other two, after keenly observing their fragile nature. The lady surrenders to the absolute authority of her exploitive master. She gradually falls prey to his hypnotic persuasion.
The seeker of positivity ultimately emerges a safe player, who is contended, seeking happiness only in the simple pleasures of life and is reluctant to jeopardize his life in the apprehension of any impending danger that might create waves of turbulence in his otherwise peaceful life. This is, in fact, a reflection of profound weakness and lack of moral courage and conviction in his capabilities.
Yet positioned in the sharp contrast against him is the other character to whom life always remains a journey of endless obstacles. Negative emotions, though he seemingly has no control over them, exert a strong influence on his conscious actions and narrow down the realm of his fleeting thoughts. Steeped in extreme negativity and viewing
life from a narrower perspective, he lacks a clear vision of what he wants and fails to appreciate the pristine beauty of the hills. Unlike his friend, he lacks the slightest inclination to obtain joy from simpler aspects of life… Hence climbing up the rough terrain of the hill seems to him extraordinarily cumbersome and tiring. He is always carrying a frown and an air of displeasure on his face and he is in a state of constant dilemma centered around uncertainty and confusion. He lives under the never-ending perplexity, and sadly enough to him life is nothing but a bundle of unsolved situations and intriguing challenges.Yet this character, most amazingly, reconciles to his fate and subjugates to the overshadowing personality of the oppressor.
The film continues to create its impact by exploring the far-reaching consequences of this subtle avenue of human contemplation to the ultimate survival strategy, viewed from different perspectives. It invokes some pivotal questions as to whether positive emotions are worth cultivating or is it the off beam approach to a socially acceptable successful living.
The maker sums up most efficiently the underlying philosophy that we’re undeniably complex beings. Often, there isn’t one singular self that makes us who we are but many multiple selves that are tugging away simultaneously. Sometimes our “positive self” wins. Sometimes our “negative self” wins. Whichever “self” wins the tug of war is the one that gets to choose how we respond to any given situation.
Moumita is a Kolkata based independent filmmaker and film critic. She holds a post- graduation degree in English literature from Jadavpur University. Reading novels of a wide range of authors of all genres from classic to contemporary has always been Moumita’s passion and calling. She also takes a strong liking in playing the Spanish guitar & has participated in quite a few concerts. Moumita has done her certification course in Cinematography, Video Editing and Filmmaking.