Thursday, March 24, 2022

Film Review: Eve Parade by Rebeccah Love

 Once again, I’m happy to share Mitch Greenberg’s review of Rebeccah Love’s newest short-film, Eve Parade, which will be premiering on April 16th at the Paradise Theatre. – D.D.

 

I once attended a screening of Don Shebib’s Between Friends on the fourth floor of Robarts Library. The Canadian legend himself was there to introduce his film, and over the course of our brief conversation, he described his cinematic philosophy as ‘Hegelian’. Over the years, I’ve often pondered this enigmatic and polyvalent statement, unsure whether I’d ever fully grasp its meaning. Having recently seen Rebeccah Love’s Eve Parade, I believe I have inched closer to understanding what the Canadian legend meant.

Rebeccah Love’s cinema strikes me as Hegelian. Each film in Love’s cinema is an antithesis and synthesis to what came before it, and each new Love film presents us with a new thesis that will surely be challenged and reshaped by her future work. Like the work of any great artist, her oeuvre is like an entropic spiral in conversation with itself, growing truer with each swing of the pendulum.

Eve Parade is a synthesis of everything that Love has directed before it, and also marks a new direction. With Eve Parade, Love takes story elements from her past work and reshapes them into something new: a film about courage.

Love begins the film with a static montage of idyllic bliss - we see a peaceful coterie of presumably upper-middle class neighbours enjoying a pleasant afternoon in the liminal spaces of their front porches. When Love cuts to the film’s protagonist, Eve, the camera loses its static positioning, as if to signal the chaos that is about to unfold.

Eve directly addresses the camera, divulging her hopes and fears with eloquence and bravery. She divulges her neurodivergence directly to the camera as her neighbours watch with pity and misunderstanding. “I know things,” Eve whispers to us. Indeed, she does - she’s the only character aware that she’s in a film.

Eve’s neighbours pity her, dismissing her monologue as the babble of a sick person despite the fact that Eve is the only one among them who is aware of their metaphysical context. This reminded me of an insight about Renaissance attitudes towards insanity shared by Foucault in his Madness & Civilization: in Renaissance visual arts, ‘the mad’ are often ascribed a knowledge of the limits of the world, and in Renaissance literature, ‘the mad’ are people who reveal the distinction between what people are, and what people pretend to be. Of course, these attitudes have persisted well into the 19th, 20th, and now 21st centuries (think of Prince Myshkin from The Idiot, or even the Riddler from The Batman, who reveals the sordid corruption of Gotham’s leadership).

Mid-monologue, Eve is swiftly corralled by her neighbours and marched to a nearby hospital. Eve responds to this with fear, but also with profound courage. Despite her terror, she marches on, encouraged by her community.

The hospital is a place where people diagnosed with mental illnesses are habitually forced to take antipsychotic medications (which can result in tardive dyskinesia, weight gain, diabetes). The hospital is a place where the rights of people diagnosed with mental illnesses are often trampled (hospitals habitually detain their psychiatric patients, place them in isolation, place them in restraints, force them to undergo painful and horrific treatments against their will). Given this context, Eve’s concerns about heading to the hospital strike me as entirely reasonable.

Halfway through the film, one of Eve’s neighbours shares a story about a dog who was abused at a kennel. It’s a major highlight of the film - through this story, Rebeccah Love allegorically synthesizes with succinct and powerful writing the experience of systematic abuse that neurodivergent people have experienced at the hands of psychiatric institutions. This reminded me of a short anecdote about a beaten donkey from a Dostoyevsky novel (which was later adapted into Au hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson). Love’s story about the beaten dog holds so much power that I wish one day to see her adapt it into a purely allegorical film.

What is so remarkable about Eve Parade (inter alia) is the immediacy with which the theme of courage is explored. We see Eve confronted with coercion, misunderstanding, pity, and condescension. We see Eve corralled towards a hospital where she has likely experienced all kinds of horrors. Despite these horrors, despite these humiliations, Eve marches forward like a warrior. And like Eve, I look forward to seeing Rebeccah Love continue to courageously march forward - into unexplored cinematic territory.

 

Mitch Greenberg

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