The short film I chose to watch was Small Deaths, since I enjoy Lynne Ramsay’s work. This story does not adhere to Aristotelian plot structure, instead presenting three spliced but thematically linked vignettes.
The ‘conflicts’ throughout these separated scenes are mostly internal- we are watching formative moments in a girl’s life, all of which have to do with masculine cruelty or negligence. It all feels detached and melancholic, with many stilted wide shots (The pair looking down at the cow, or the girl alone in the stairwell) that evoke the sense of dreamlike recollection. I think the budget constraints lend themselves to an intentionality and economy of filmmaking, where the tinny voices and cheap film elevate this remembered atmosphere.
The world of the film does a great job in emphasizing that these traumatic instances are chronologically and tonally distant from each other- the soft, golden light of the pastures is quickly undercut with the grunge of the apartment. Ramsay is also talented in her use of specific images; The gore of the cow, the harsh close-ups on laughing faces, or even the simple blocking of the haircut at the back of the frame are all communicative of what the titular ‘small deaths’ represent.
Narratively, this most resembles an episodic structure. Each story is not reliant nor continual of another, but features similar themes, an enclosed resolution, and the same character. It especially works for this short because it can encapsulate sweeping ideas on a decades-long scale with only a few simple scenes.