H. (Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, 2014): USA | Argentina

Reviewed by Ashley Wierl. Viewed at the AFI Fest 2015.

From the directors who brought us “Recommended by Enrique” and “Ok, Enough, Goodbye”, Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia created “H.”, a story of two modern day Helen of Troy’s living their days in an apocalyptic vision. Homer depicts Helen of Troy as a sorrowful figure who comes to regret their choices, which is paralleled in the mannerisms of both Helen’s (Robin Bartlett, Rebecca Dayan).

“H.” is two separate stories paralleled by some seemingly apocalyptic event that alters the course of the two main character’s lives. Older Helen, (Robin Bartlett) who is overly obsessed with born again baby dolls, suffers a loss when her husband goes missing after this strange event. Younger Helen, (Rebecca Dayan) goes through her own set of personal losses that build up from the point the “event” took place. In the end, both Helen’s find their own means of escape and peace. Writers of the film, Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, mention in a Q&A at the AFI Fest screening that this film is a take on the end of the world, but on a micro level. Both stories clearly illustrate how intimate, personal losses can feel like the end of one’s world, where the global doom pales in comparison. Attieh goes on to explain how both versions of Helen are a reflection of her anxieties and the anxieties of women in that age group, really dwelling on “what if the worst does happen?”.

An interesting portrayal of the stories is the use of music. Throughout the older Helen’s story, the music is close to a classical film score, while younger Helen’s is a more modern take on sound design. The use of long, slow shots adds to the message of how painful the mundane aspects of like can be when your own world is falling apart.

While the plot moves fairly slow, “H.” is an insightful film that will leave audiences reflecting on their own worlds.

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