Tracce Sulla Cenere
Written by Andrea Umberto Origlia | Review by Prarthana MitraTracce sulla Cenere, roughly translating to Traces on Ash is a short Italian thriller directed by Andrea Umberto Origlia. This year’s Best Short Film at the Cult Critic Movie Awards, Tracce sulla Cenere, charts the course of an open case of high-profile crimes, seemingly connected but forever elusive to the police.
Enter, consulting detective Rob and his sidekick Dav. Together, they run from pillar to post—meeting sinister men in abandoned buildings, tracking down dead scientists, following paper trails—to get to the bottom of the case. Roberto Origlia plays the protagonist with a nuanced understanding of his internal struggles, which he emotes with dramatic responses in scenes that demand it.
Rob’s flair for sleuthing is apparent from the very start, as he strives relentlessly to catch the killer responsible for innumerable and gruesome deaths around the city. But he also lives the unenviable life of a parent whose child’s dying before his own eyes. As a helpless and devoted father, Rob watches his daughter Chiara wither away to a rare genetic disorder, and his wife unable to cope with it. His personal troubles, however, directly conflict his role as a private investigator when he finds that the two may be linked.
Sergio Origlia as the criminal mastermind delivers a particularly compelling performance. Playing a psychopath in a short film with very little screen time is no cakewalk. But it is him who voices at a critical moment what is possibly the best line in the film – Justice requires acts that overturn the nature of the world in which they’ve got used to living.
The dialogues were penned by Roberto Origlia and Davide Natali, who also play the lead roles Rob and Dav, and their camaraderie stays loyal to the trope of detective and his partner-in-fighting crime. Although the film falls in the generic brackets of a crime/thiller/detective/mystery, Andrea also seems to have been influenced by Matteo Garrone’s films on contemporary crime syndicates, and the elaborate ritual of killing popularised by provocateurs like Nicolas Winding Refn. While the film ends on a positive note, the mystery is sustained till the very last shot. With brilliant use of camera movements, angles, and the mise-en-scene, Andrea is able to give shape to the winding but fast-paced narrative.
For a film just thirty minutes long, Tracce sulla Cenere offers well-rounded entertainment with a rare finesse and understanding of audience memory. Packing a lot of punches, mystery, drama and melodrama as it goes, it blends all the crime, intrigue and gore, with a rare glimpse into the darkest depths of human mind.
Prarthana is presently in between odd jobs and obtaining her master’s degree in literature. She loves modern poetry and meditative cinema. Based out of Calcutta, Prarthana observes people, football, films and enjoys writing about all three. Of late, she relates to Frank Ocean’s music. Her writing experience consists of writing for various sites such as Try Cinema, The Indian Economist, Doing The Rondo, Saintbrush and various academic journals.