The Ribbon on the Kite
Directed by Gianlorenzo Albertini | Review by Moumita DebThis is one of the most powerful movies that exposes the folly of a failing system by sketching an agonized human face on the canvas of a war-torn city. It resonates with the plights of homeless war veterans, abandoned to their fate, fighting an unending and this time a more decisive battle with their inner conflict, which perhaps leaves a permanent scar in their life.
A gripping tale of a reunion between an estranged sister with her long-lost brother, who most suspiciously disappears after the war of Afghanistan. Daerik, represents the discouraging image of a devastated army veteran, who tries to drown out the painful memories of a mission in Afghanistan where his men were killed. This traumatic experience transforms him into a recluse while Rebecca makes every attempt to find her untraced brother. On every birthday, she habitually goes to the park and cherishes the memory of him by flying kites. On one such fateful day, Rebecca sees a homeless man and an inner urge to help brings her to him the following day, only to realize that the homeless man living on the river bank is none other than her lost brother Daerik.
This storyline perhaps best captures the plight of war veterans who end up either sleeping under highways or camping in the woods behind barbed wires. To add to the misery, he now battles against post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), a result of the deaths and other human atrocities he observed in the early days of the invasion. Daerik did return home but life was not what he expected…
One is left wondering how much worse the situation has become for the returning soldiers. This starkly real but humane film registers as a howl of despair for so many lost in war, and very few films can lay claim to such a sustained, technically impressive rendering of the consequences of combat on the human body and mind. Of course, there were the unspoken wounds – the mental anguish suffered by returning soldiers probably for the rest of their lives.
The film addresses subtle issues, not confined within the periphery of the battlefield alone. A war veteran turns into a beast coping with the mental abuse inflicted on him, suffers from a sense of shattered identity and profound moral disillusionment and eventually chooses isolation. Using Daerik’s story as a fulcrum, Albertini examines the wider issues of homelessness.
The title metaphorically justifies the strong sibling bond that holds a relationship together. It is a streak of ribbon figuratively fortifying a relationship that might have disintegrated but not faded away. The anguish of losing her brother embedded deep down her soul finds vent in flying the kite, which plays a symbolic role in the faint revival of childhood memories.
Director soon situates the viewer where exactly he would never want to be. He creates the ground for empathy, through a positive message of hope amidst despair instilled in him by the strange young girl who erases his psychological scars of combat by transforming him from a death seeker to a life seeker. This is a compelling film with the timeless appeal that might outrank others in its definite but unimposing style. It touches upon the underlying theme of reformation, acceptance and a sister’s desperate attempt to restore faith in life of her forlorn brother, overcoming trampled egos and learning how to value what is truly important in life.
Greg Hill gives a standout performance in enacting the role of a soldier who must face the grim prospects of adapting to his changed environment, his apparent despair being a daily reminder of his wretchedness. The silence is gripping at times and the heart-rending sentimental scenes with the sister might grab your emotions and shake them for all they are worth.
No film can rival the humanism and clarity of purpose. The fluid camera moves perfectly absorb us frame by frame to the heightening drama. Characters are delineated with great credibility and compassion and the story concludes brilliantly with a strangely touching gesture of hope for the future. However, if you expect any kind of mercy or relief then you are misjudging the misanthropic tone of the movie. The background score, though slightly melancholic, harmoniously blends with the emotional upheavals of the characters.
A real tear-jerker, the film boasts of a smart script and some truly memorable performances. Most importantly it has a happy though the unpredictable ending, that might leave you with a warm feeling.
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.