Film Review | O Negative (2015)

Film run-time: 14 minutes | Starring Steven McCarthy, Alyx Melone, Sandra Forsell
Written and Directed by Steven McCarthy, Cinematography by Cabot McNenly, Edited by Stéphane Lafleur

O Negative“, a 2015 short film by Steven McCarthy, is a smorgasbord of sensual feeling; a laconic intimacy that beckons with an elliptical suspense, delivered with the deftness of a narrative tactician, who can tease out the subtleties and shock of a moment. A taciturn man and woman take up lodging in a motel, with apparatuses that seem at odds with the typical belongings of the itinerant.

Captured in breathless, speechless compositions of nervous anticipation and exhausted relief, the film has the myopic quality of a close observer—it is as though one is either the man or the woman, affixed to the irreducible bond that makes up their relationship. As an extended metaphor, the cinematographic properties also serve to illuminate the short-sightedness of their special arrangement, and the shortfalls of the unsustainable practice.

Fluctuating between the savagery of sporadic violence and the sensual trance of love, the film combines a pensive soundtrack with the shrills of a horror venture, effectively a fracturing which parallels the dividing forces that plague the man’s conscience. The jaundiced scenes of sexual connection mirror the unease of the couple’s union, that serve still as a preternatural radiance against ubiquitous darkness.

Like a song of sacrifice, there is beauty in the images of the nocturnal couple, wrapped up in a blanketing silence, as if the secrets they hold are too unspeakable. Largely without context, perhaps to strengthen the immediacy of what viewers see, “O Negative” is a vignette of love, a celebratory portrait of its immensity, and its longevity amid extenuating circumstances.

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