A rather strange story is shown depicted in David Chadashvili's short student film, "Sam" (2021). The main character, Sam (Vakhtang Vakhtangadze), whose name we learn from his wife (Maria Giorgobiani), is in great trouble - he cannot wake up. He does it several times but none of them are real because each one is a dream. Initially, these dreams are relatively short and then the duration of the "mirages" increases.
The character simply perceives how he wakes up, how he talks to his wife, explains his problem and hears her soothing phrases. After that, he sometimes enters the bathroom and splashes water on his face, sometimes he lights a cigarette, sometimes he goes out onto the balcony and breathes fresh air. No matter what he does, the final result of each of his actions is the same – by some miraculous power, Sam goes back to bed and wakes up again every time. After the last awakening, he panics, he is seriously gripped by the fear that he will never be able to get out of this dream and becomes out of control.
Unfortunately, the director is not able to get the main message across clearly. There is nothing new or special about the character not being able to wake up. The main thing is the idea and the goal, which the author tries to bring to the audience (although he cannot do it easily and clearly).
Presumably, the main character's body is sick, due to which it will become disobedient to the owner. Sam can no longer control it, he has lost control over his actions. The question arises as to why and with what his body is damaged. Here, it is worth focusing on the moment where the wife, frightened by his reactions, asks her husband if he is still using drugs. The main character denies this so convincingly that the audience no longer doubts his truth and believes until the end that some other, inexplicable event is going through Sam's head. Moreover, he has completely lost the ability to reason correctly, to analyze the situation, to distinguish between reality and unreality, he lacks common sense.
The plot of the film is really frightening. Everything seems to revolve around one circle from which it is impossible to escape. This confinement creates a claustrophobic fear. All this corresponds to the aesthetics and the environment that is presented in this work: black and white colors, an almost empty room and another important "character" in its center - the bed. The house is also like a psychiatric institution.
One of the interesting solutions is the use of animation at the beginning of the film. This adds variety to it. Such involvement can be considered a very interesting and profitable step on the part of the director. The animation is also done in black and white colors, and the drawing itself is quite dangerous and shocking and manages to create the appropriate mood for the audience from the very first seconds.
The sound is a very big drawback of the film. It is almost impossible to understand the dialogue of the characters. Many important phrases or individual words spoken by them are lost in the accompanying music and "noises," which makes it difficult for the audience to understand and perceive them correctly. All this should be combined with each other in such a way that it does not interfere, but complements one another. The characters’ conversation seems to reach the audience like an echo from far away. Supposedly, such a position is the director’s deliberate decision to give the story a more dramatic tone and psychological tension.
The acting lacks believability. There are moments when the main character looks better, usually when he expresses his feelings with body language and facial expressions. His expression is natural, but as soon as he speaks, this naturalness is immediately lost.
The camera works well. The close-ups at the turning points, the blurry, out-of-focus shots, the slow, reverse motion of the camera that shows Sam's confused walk towards the balcony are impressive. In this way, the director avoids manipulating the emotions of the audience. In the episode of Sam's final awakening, when he panics and screams, the movement of the camera, along with the character's emotions, becomes more chaotic - the shot is sometimes on the faces of the characters, sometimes on the legs, sometimes it rotates, and sometimes we look through the glass at the characters who are screaming at each other in despair. In the last scene, a deep mise-en-scène is used – in the foreground, the audience can see a kettle on the gas cooker, and in the background, the characters are visible out of focus, slowly hiding behind the wall and disappearing. There is still a kettle in the shot, but the voices of the characters can be heard continuously beyond it, which allows the viewer to stay in the epicenter of the events and follow its development. After a sudden blackout and a woman's screams, terrified Sam is seen, followed by darkness, the heartbreaking scream of a kettle, and the appearance of a dead woman with her eyes open. Lying next to his wife, horror-stricken Sam cannot wake up again despite all his efforts. If everything was a dream before, this is now a reality which he can never change.
The plot of the film moves so quickly and unknowingly that the story is still obscure in the end. The episode of Sam killing his own wife is unclear. It seems that the director was so eager to make the film as effective as possible that he failed to take into account several important details. The murder committed by the character is somehow taken out of context. It was necessary to go deeper.
In general, a person is going to commit many horrors in a situation that is completely unknown to him or in a state of affect. Sam is really in a big uncertainty. In addition, as the wife says, she puts psychological pressure on him and makes the already irritated person even more exasperated. Even so, the killing still seems hasty and senseless. Many other factors had to be considered before such action in order to present this scene more naturally and convincingly. Given that the film itself is so short, this speed can probably be justified.
The murder committed by Sam did not happen in a dream but in real, so it is shocking for both the character and the audience. It turns out that the director got the job done, and despite many misunderstandings and questions the audience has, the film still has an emotional effect. The last episode is particularly memorable, showing Sam unable to come to terms with what he has done. He is still unable to control his body, he is still an observer and watches everything from a distance. He still believes that he is in a dream, he does not lose hope that he will wake up now and everything will return to its place, although he does not wake up anymore. The shot darkens and reappears - nothing changes. Sam closes his eyes, opens, closes, opens, but to no avail.
BA student of film studies