After a terrible sickness spreads across the land, killing many in the process, a grieving gravedigger tries to make sense of the loss in the short film The Misanthrope.
Andy Kastelic has been on a tear recently; releasing three short films in quick succession, all of which are of the highest quality. After reviewing the very good Blue Boy, we then had the privilege of watching St. Augustine. Now, he has returned with the exceptionally beautiful fifteen-minute film The Misanthrope.
As soon as the short starts, you are welcomed by some blisteringly gorgeous cinematography, courtesy of Jannis Schelenz. We see a gravedigger (Andy Kastelic) going to work, digging in the sands of some unnamed desert, placing crosses to mark the final resting places of the recently deceased. Schelenz also shot Kastelic’s other recent works that we reviewed, all of which were striking, but this is the best we have seen of him to date. The opening score, which reminded me of Max Richter’s work on arrival, plays over the images and that too is stunning.
Over the imagery, we hear the Gravedigger as he speaks about the disease that has spread and killed many. We hear how he has lost the love of his life, and that he mourning the loss. Like St Augustine, Kastelic’s dialogue is poetically beautiful and delivered in a whimsical and often dream-like way.
Four mourners turn up to the gravesite. They all talk to the camera as they deliver the eulogy, all ending with an offering of a single flower to place on the grave, albeit a rose, a dahlia, a sunflower, etc.
Not thinking straight due to his loss, the Gravedigger takes it upon himself to take charge of the makeshift cemetery and tells all those that come that bringing flowers is banned, due to the disease possibly “hitching a ride” on the stems and petals.
This soon leads to a montage featuring flashbacks of the Gravedigger and his girl, the said girl dancing in the sand, the mourners replanting flowers, and the Gravedigger screaming on his knees in agony.
Andy Kastelic is proving himself to be a very stylish filmmaker, but he also adds substance to his stories, which is quite rare for a filmmaker who has yet hit “the big time”. If Kastelic continues to make shorts as great as the three we have recently reviewed, it won’t be long until we do see him helming some big feature. We can’t wait.