Written by Antoine Laurens | Review by Moumita Deb
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]dapted Adapted from one of the most captivating and haunting graphic novels by Chaboute — mostly wordless, Alone is miraculously scripted on an somber yet heart-wrenching tale of the tormenting agony of self-imposed isolation.
Alone is bound to silently absorb you in its brilliant portrayal of strikingly convincing characters, steeped in stark realism. A quiet, gut-wrenching masterpiece, this simple nearly wordless movie is an allegory about language and creativity, but the turn to human connection moves it in another important direction.
Through some truly convincing and enrapturing cinematography, Director Antoine Laurens assuredly excels in portraying a bleak taste of solitude in the haunting loneliness of the protagonist. Born deformed, he shuns human company. We, the viewers, do get to see the island’s sole inhabitant and how he spends his days. His natural deformity adds to the shock value.
The movie leaves the viewer to ponder in tranquility what a solitary man does in complete seclusion, day in and day out, and how he finds different ways to entertain and stimulate his mind.
Alone with its minimal exchange of dialogues includes many long and slow sections, where the director plays astutely with scale and perspective. Moreover, in the course of action, the director has to do something with the plot to move it along. Major revelations in the sea of nothingness seem to bizarrely speed-up and simplify what is otherwise a ponderous and reflective movie. That being said, I’m not sure how the director could have done it differently and still had such a rare and interesting plot.
Lauren uses Alone’s dictionary game to move the plot along and make it more interesting and expansive. It seems reasonable to assume that most of Alone’s knowledge of the external world comes from his giant dictionary, and the rest comes from scraps of items, memories and teachings left by his parents. Because of his extreme isolation, disfigurement, and other factors, he has never needed to grow up fully, and his imagination remains as fresh as a child’s. Alone’s creative power conjures up many fantastic scenes based on each new word he learns, or re-visits from the dictionary.
Alienation, loneliness, boredom – these are all reiterating thoughts that would haunt our minds again and again over the course of the movie.
Alone is a study in patience, in longing and in thought. Aside from that initial interaction between two fishermen who bring supplies each week to the mysterious inhabitant of the lighthouse, the plot takes place in sinister yet absorbing silence.
Sure, Alone is gruesome, but it’s not a monster. While the story ends on a hopeful note, its hopefulness is couched in reality.
Alone is, to be sure, a well-crafted, well-intentioned movie. But it also downplays some important emotional and psychological realities of living with a facial disfigurement.
Alone reveals what it’s like to live with a disfigured face in a society where physical appearance so often determines a person’s worth.
The experience is complicated; Lauren intriguingly makes us wonder and fills us with a certain degree of fear and sadness, but also with compassion, longing to help and vision about something deeper and richer contained only in the human spirit.
Moumita is a Kolkata based independent filmmaker and film critic. She holds a post- graduation degree in English literature from Jadavpur University. Reading novels of a wide range of authors of all genres from classic to contemporary has always been Moumita’s passion and calling. She also takes a strong liking in playing the Spanish guitar & has participated in quite a few concerts. Moumita has done her certification course in Cinematography, Video Editing and Filmmaking.