Film Review: NQV’s ‘The Last Days of Innocence’ [Short Collection]

NQV’s latest queer themed short collection The Last Days of Innocence presents four shorts centred around a turning point of adolescence. A crossover from youthful innocence to the new dimensions of burgeoning adulthood. Shot with an intoxicating visual richness, this spellbinding collection of shorts captures adolescence at a pivotal turning point.

Watch here.

Ruins (Dir. Benoît Duvette)

Benoît Duvette presents an ethereal, mystic short film that centres on two boys fleeing to the wilderness. Their feelings eventually come to the surface in the darkness of the forest. With the sounds of the forest populating Ruins and cinematography that conjures an eerie near primeval quality in the rural landscape, Ruins is a staggering visual piece. Poignant narration from actors Paul Lecomte and Simon Royer​ hints at the romantic subtext at the heart of Ruins yet Duvette’s short is one that benefits from its sense of intrigue and earthy mystery.

Aline (Dir. Simon Guélat)

Albin lives in a remote and picturesque Swiss ski town with his mother. He has recently moved there and struggles to fit into the small town community, instead losing himself in reading and his relationship with his mother. A meeting with rough and ready Julien and subsequent late-night romantic rendezvous begins a dynamic which Albin hopes will provide romantic fulfilment yet instead Julien shuns Albin. With narrated extracts from Albin’s readings that intriguingly parallel his relationship with Julien, Aline gains a poetic, romantic quality – albeit one that inevitably ends in heartbreak. The tale of the young queer falling for the dangerous, closeted tough guy is an age old one – yet filmmaker Simon Guélat captures the excitement and late night thrill of this initial romance. Albin and Julien’s relationship is one that only survives in the darkness as the young men sneak into dark mountain landscapes in the middle of the night. Daylight sees Albin ignored and mocked by Julien. Guélat’s sensitive direction and an intelligent performance from Paulin Jaccoud capture a love that will never be – an inevitable heartbreak – yet there is the sense of a phoenix rising from the ashes in the triumphant final scene.

Snake (Dir. Andrej I. Volkashin)

North Macedonian short Snake from filmmaker Andrey Volkashin centres on nine-year old troublemaker Mario who spends his days causing mischief with his friends. The group begin to target the eccentric Borche and as the children begin to observe his world, they start to question their own notions of gender. Opening in a bright rural community in Macedonia, Volkashin crafts a playful Stand By Me style tone as the children cause harmless mischief. When hiding from a friend, Mario begins to observe neighbours, fascinated by the cross dressing Borche wearing an extravagant antler headpiece and playing with a snake. Capturing the bright eyed fascination of a nine-year old, Volkashin presents Mario’s world opening up as he begins to experiment with notions of gender in his own dress sense – much to the horror of his parents. Exploring the innocence and harmless intrigue of youth, Snake is a vibrant discussion of the queer experience in part of a geographical world that many of us know little about.

The Touching (Dir. Dominik György)

Czech short The Touching is perhaps the most challenging and uncomfortable of the set. Opening with an eighties-inspired synth-driven score, Dominik György’s short begins to feel like a Todd Haynes inspired piece – capturing the white picket fences and immaculate lawns of suburbia – yet there is an undercurrent of something more unsettling behind this. The short explores the mutual self discovery of two brothers David and Marek – yet when Marek realises that this curiosity has crossed acceptable limits he distances himself. David struggles to understand the complexities of this, beginning to act out. Tackling hard-hitting subject matter through the perspective of childlike confusion and innocence, ensures that The Touching is a bold, difficult watch.