Directed by Xavier Baeyens and Norman Baert | Reviewed by Adva Reichman
The first relationship a child has is with his parents, and we view home as the place we should feel safe and loved. That relationship will shape the man or woman we’ll grow up to be, will affect our self-esteem, and the choices we’ll make in life. Growing up in an abusive home can impact a child’s heart and soul and change the way they navigate life.
‘In Limbo’, a short thriller written by Ruben Bouillon and directed by Xavier Baeyens and Norman Baert, shows us the after math of growing up in the shadow of such a relationship. The filmmakers chose to focus on a very specific time – where one must choose if they want to say a final goodbye.
The film follows Simon as he’s trying to decide whether to answer a call from his dying father. That decision is eating him inside and the voices in his head come alive. He is on the verge of a mental breakdown and allows each voice to express its position, as loud as it may need to.
Through the voices, taking on human shapes, we learn more about the abuse Simon suffered by his father, and the gravity of the decision he now needs to make – Does he answer the call and grant his father a proper goodbye or does he choose to ignore his father’s wishes and never allow him to hurt him again?
The talented Koen Van der Sande, who plays Simon, manages to beautifully display anger and panic combined with the right amount of sensitivity and pain. The voices, played by the gifted Michèle Even, Lissa Timmerman, Ruben Francq and Jonathan Lambrechts, demonstrate the turbulent, fragile and temperamental sides one can have while confronted with such a gut-wrenching decision.
The cinematography, done by co director Norman Baert, is striking and captures the loneliness and panic Simon is in. The framing, colors and camera movement are exquisite and bring his inner pain to life. While the film could have benefitted from being a couple of minutes shorter, it is still an intense psychological experience.
The editing, done by Arnaud Bellemans, keeps the viewers on their toes as the story shifts from the living room in which Simon sits in, to a limbo where the voices challenge and eliminate each other until the loudest one wins. The voices move from rage to compassion, trying to win over Simon’s heart or just scare him enough to choose their path. The brutal fight has only one winner. But can there actually be a winner in this sad scenario? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Adva Reichman is an Israeli writer-director based in Los Angeles; her latest film, Something to Live For deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was screened at prestigious festivals. While in Israel, she worked in the Israeli news and on documentaries that revolved around major terror attacks and kidnappings that took place in Israel during the 70’s and 80’s. She is a graduate of the TV & Film Production MFA program at USC School of Cinematic Arts.