Busan Intl. Film Festival 2018 premiered Sri Lankan short film “Waves Interrupted” (2018) by Dimon John, invites on a 13-minute journey into a night full of new experiences of familiar places with a challenged sense of hearing.
“Waves Interrupted” introduces a young woman with a hearing aid device working late into the night. Just before hastily leaving for home, a tired, automated movement of hand lands the device in a sink, rendering it useless. The night is definitely no longer young, and the lack of capacity to hear makes the journey really tricky. And scary. Because this girl walking alone in the dark is no vampire.
The sole idea of challenged senses is not a novelty, as it has happened in films that a character lives/struggles with a disability, or is subject to voluntary or involuntary substance abuse. Here, a broken device lands the character in the realm of clear mind, opened to the scenes directly, targeting eyesight without any sound foreshadow.
With the given premise, “Waves Interrupted” has to rely firstly, on the coordination between the main actress Chandima Karunadasa and cinematographer Vishwajith Karunarathne, and second, on editing (Ajith Ramanayake) and sound design and mix (Aruna Priyantha Kaluarachchi). Fair to say, it all works. Their cooperation under the direction of Dimon John works smoothly, channelling the frustration of being let down by all the devices designed to make one’s life easier, the intensifying and even starting paralysing panic that is almost palpable in Karunadasa’s more and more shaken gestures and accented fastened breathing and heartbeat.
But “Waves Interrupted” is not without problematic moments. One can only guess, it was the immersion into the idea itself that misted the need of re-reading the script, getting rid of the moments that disturb its flow. Dimon John as the scriptwriter thought about obstacles that the young woman encounter in details, making her super bad day familiar even for people and situations when you only rely on a working mobile. Moreover, some of the decisions don’t really work with the woman’s character – the establishing scene showing her working in a space equipped with several computers, herself using two monitors which indicates other than your routine secretary work. Yet, she tends to act artificially silly.
There are moments when all those panic-inducing moments just don’t make sense (why is she frustrated of no coins to make a call from a public phone when her main problem is her challenged capacity to hear), or feel placed just for the effect (why the guy had to masturbate – wouldn’t taking a leak be enough). They detach from the flow of the muted and distorted soundscape and looks-turn-glances that convey otherwise very believable (and plausible) feel of one such a night.
“Waves Interrupted” shows a good level of sync among the main actress, cinematographer, editor, and the sound technician, but also lack on the level of script writing, leaving it with some unnecessary moments, pulling it down into the pool of a very well executed film school exercise for cinematography and sound department students