Nick Barkla, Jillian Nguyen
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…intense and thought-provoking…
Writer and director Nora Niasari’s taut and thought-provoking thriller Tâm vividly describes a young woman’s horrific experience as she wakes up into a literal nightmare.
It opens as its protagonist awakens in an alien and foreign hotel room, confused about the night before, trying to figure out how she got there. She’s still wearing the same dress she was wearing previously, having been clubbing the night before.
As she quickly starts to put the pieces together of where is she and how she got there, the reality of her situation begins to become apparent to Tâm and viewers.
As she grapples with her circumstances, the grimness of what she faces is plainly laid out.
This is the premise which begins the visceral short film Tâm, by Iranian-Australian filmmaker Nora Niasari.
Unvarnished in its depiction of the struggle endured by its principal character, whilst not shying away from the questions and ramifications this raises; Niasari’s film is an arresting portrait of a fearsome ordeal.
The film is also intensely executed and shot, giving it an atmosphere of terror and peril, which permeates the narrative.
Methodically photographed by Sherwin Akbarzadeh, who has collaborated with Niasari twice before on The Phoenix and Waterfall, the film is composed entirely of one shot – evoking the claustrophobic experience of its protagonist.
For much of the film, the camera is often focused tightly on Tâm’s eyes; the angst and dread in her face. That sense of fear is distilled in a honed performance by young actor on-the-rise Jillian Nguyen (Hungry Ghosts, the upcoming Loveland), encapsulating the titular character’s total panic and disbelief.
This is the fourth short film by the promising writer-director Niasari and it feels deeply linked to her previous work, which is more interested in empathising with characters and in social and political concerns than hollow, big stories and budgets.
Packing a timely punch from beginning to its intense and thought-provoking end, Tâm is an incisive and acute portrait of a harrowing encounter.
Tâm is currently screening digitally at CinefestOz which runs from August 25 – 30, 2020. Tickets are available here.
The film has also been shortlisted in the 2020 AACTA Award Category for Best Short Film and is available to AACTA members for viewing and voting until September 14 2020