Review of “Pages 321”

In this short film, Anugat Raj does not seek originality but the ability to revisit and translate into cinematic language a central theme of the creative process, which is always a huge challenge.

Pages 321

Pages 321

Directed by Anugat Raj (India)

In “Pages 321 Indian director Anugat Raj invites us to follow the creative process of a writer as he imagines a new character in a new story that is about to be told. And defined.

In voice-over, as we follow the creative routine of the “author”, the writer, we discover the motivation: “I write to express. I write to impress. I write for me. I write for you all. But here, there’s another life from the dark part of my fantasy….” And so begins the mental dialogue between the “author” and the “character”, who on the screen reveals to be the author, transfigured. The alter ego that emerges from the writing of the “author” and starts to control the action. As if he had gained own life.

This exercise, between literature and cinema, in search of the affirmation of art as the only instrument that can save man from himself, is a theme that has been explored by many artists, both writers and filmmakers. Because it is recurrent this need of the author to defy the meaning of his own artistic creation. From this point of view, Anugat Raj does not seek originality but the ability to revisit and translate into cinematic language a central theme of the creative process, which is always a huge challenge.

Pages 321

Pages 321

The plotline is not defined right from the beginning, because it takes to the audience some time to abandon the daily routine of the writer and begin to realize where the director wants to take them. But once set, the movie gains a new pace and a new structure.

And here lies the biggest embarrassment of this “Pages 321”: the transition, as soon as the alter ego of the “author” takes over the action, with some questionable options. After an introduction that is perfect on many levels, and intriguing to the viewer, suddenly everything that has been built, with an excellent emotional connection with the audience, seems to be cast off.

Pages 321

Pages 321

From several shots with an irreproachable cinematography in search of symmetries and a fluidity that evokes a lot the aesthetics of neorealist cinema, and a good work of the black and white, “Pages 321” suddenly gives way to a way of filmmaking that has nothing to do with the initial promise. The song “Mambo No.5” by Lou Vega to the sound of which the actor (the circumspect writer who gives place to the fictional character) performs a weird dance and the rambling monologues are some examples of the strangeness that follows.

Still, “Pages 321” is overall a pleasant surprise that can lead to an extraordinary second chapter if Anugat Raj’s intention to do the part two materializes.

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