“Chai Coffee Chai” – some street vendor chants, producing a tinkling sound with his bell. It is to be, as we will learn in the next 14 minutes, the sound of love lost and…new beginnings. At 14 minutes, Emeara Kamble’s short “Almost There” explores the ways break-up is dealt with by two strangers, in a narrative infused with melancholic thoughts, loneliness, and well-handled humor.
Twenty-something Myra is introduced to viewers through her voice-over, which is completely drained of emotions but nevertheless betrays the emotional slump she’s going through. “Maybe I’m not made to stay but disappear so far away I cannot be found… Every night I think of how I want to be loved. And I realized no one touches me the way I do.” Having spent “quite some time” with a guy, Myra is now struggling to get over him, though the sound of coffee chai vendors keeps interfering with (or aiding?) her attempts to start over.
On the other end, video editor Baba is doing no better. Desperate to find some closure to his ill-lived romance, Baba hires a prostitute, and instead of getting carnal pleasures, tries to get the girl to join him in reenacting his last, tearful encounter with his ex-girlfriend.
Emeara uses her 14 minutes wisely, getting the perspectives of both characters on their relationship’s failure, while affording viewers moments of hilarity, reminiscent of “Chungking Express”. The emotional weight of break-ups is carefully documented, with Gourav Roy’s intimate camerawork that lingers on the characters’ facial expressions and the interior design of their rooms, especially the coffee pack/jar that seems to assume an omnipresence. Close-ups and medium shots and the fact that two characters are seen mostly indoors are quite effective in impressing on viewers that Myra and Baba are both trapped in the past and suffocated in it. But when both characters change their “tactics” in dealing with pent-up frustrations, viewers instantly see a change both in where they are and how they are filmed. In other words, location reflects what stage the protagonists are going through in their emotional crisis.
The acting of both actors is decent, though the actress playing Myra is a lot more memorable. With roughly 5 minutes alloted to her part, she still manages to flesh out the character of Myra quite effectively. If there is one aspect upon which the film might improve, then it’s the pace of the second act, which feels a little bit forced and somehow spoils the good comical effects in this part of the film.
Overall, “Almost There” is a nice attempt to depict relationship failure and its aftermath. While the story is far from fresh, the film is very engaging. If anything, it shows Emeara’s directing calibre and is another interesting entry in the genre.