Directed by Olivier Lopes Barros I Reviewed by Swastika Ghosh
‘13 Amsterdam Street’ is quite an interesting psychological drama thriller short film by a prolific director, Olivier Lopes Barros. The film revolves around a troubled boy named Simon who has recently moved into a new house with his mother and is facing issues settling in the new neighborhood. This short film will take you through several experiences, from thrill to psychic dilemma, anxiety, suspense, anguish, and pain. Psychology shows that the age between 11 to 13 is when bullying in kids peaks and though it decreases as children grow up, its impact remains massive unless treated. This particular aspect has been a major theme, which is, in fact, the main cause of the turn of events that we can see in the film. We can see the boys of the neighborhood have taken it up upon themselves to create an uncomfortable environment for the already disturbed Simon for fun which further intensifies his dislike for the new place.
Throughout the movie, there is a greyish, misty color tone that is indicative of a cold and harsh ambiance. The eerie background scores accompanied by slow dragged music complement the tone quite well.
The number 13 has always been considered an unlucky figure in Western countries. The incorporation of such a number in the title as well as the address of the protagonist sets the mood of the film and is indicative of something bad that is about to happen.
Throughout the film, we find that Simon is mostly lost in his thoughts, hardly ever talks to anyone, and faces great difficulty in expressing himself. There are very few things that make him happy, one of them being his pet cat. The black cat is his only true companion and he spends most of his time with it. The sudden and unnatural death of his cat shatters him but he fails to express grief. His inability to express himself stems from his deranged mental orientation. On the other hand, the arrival of a new, exactly similar-looking cat has no impact on him. The reason behind this could be the fact that letting new people into his life is not an easy task for him, building walls around him and finding comfort inside his cocoon.
Another major issue that led to the boy’s pathologically disturbing character is the separation of his parents. A child deprived of the love of their parents generally fails to express themselves to the fullest. We can see that the boy refuses to talk to his father who intended to console him over his pet’s death. Simon often overhears his mother talking to his father regarding the difficulties that she faces which is quite distressing for him to digest.
Due to the boy’s secretive nature, he has a great eye for details. He is extremely patient and a brilliant observer. However, it remains a mystery whether what he sees or thinks is actually rooted in reality or not. This is when our minds raise several questions regarding the boy’s loss of senses and that eventually tricks him into a new world of unrealism. There seems to be a very significant twist in the story which is only revealed in the climax of the film. The climax is left on a cliffhanger, leaving the audience with a profound interpretation of the last scene. To know what that is, you need to watch the entire movie and think for yourself.
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Swastika Ghosh was born in Kolkata and lives with her parents and her beloved dog, Fuss. She studied Linguistics at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and holds immense love and passion for languages and literature. She spends much of her time indulging in contemporary and classic films from all across the globe.