Film Review: The Weight of Elephants (2013)
Occasion: Mum & daughter night at Melbourne International Film Festival
Breathtakingly beautiful and searingly honest, The Weight of Elephants delves into the darkness of childhood angst, loneliness and longing.
Without the capacity to completely comprehend the adult world around him, 11 year old Adrian (Murphy) finds himself entranced by the mysterious disappearance of three neighbourhood children. This is a distraction for him perhaps; from the schoolyard bullies, the unpredictability of his beloved but depressed uncle, the conspicuous absence of his mother and the discipline of his stern grandmother.
The performances by the children are incredible. Borgman searched extensively for “the right boy”*, but Murphy is more than right: his performance embodies everything that is frightening yet magical about childhood.
Elephants‘ soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment to the visual beauty. The opening sequence remains scorched onto my heart; the scene’s hazy light and the dream-like quality of the children’s movements is delivered to an emotional apex by sound artist Anderson’s magnificent score.
This is Borgman’s first feature and it is so good it hurts. By his own admission he let the film naturally unfold, let the children play, explore their creativity, without planning some of its most stunning moments. Elephants feels as organic, introverted and sweet as Borgman seems to be himself and I rank it as one of the best dramatic movies I’ve seen in years.
The Weight of Elephants
Written & directed by Daniel Joseph Borgman
Soundtrack by Kristian Eidnes Anderson
Starring Demos Murphy, Angelina Cottrell, Catherine Wilkin, Matthew Sutherland and Hannah Jones
Based on the novel About A Boy by Sonya Hartnett
*The director answered questions afterwards. I can’t remember if this is exactly how he put it, but he spoke at length about the difficulty of finding a suitable “Adrian”.