Short Film Review: Golden Frames in the Closet (2019)

Filmmaker Putri Sarah Amelia likes to toy with suspense, to sometimes confusing results but at least with an appeasing payoff at the end of it all. The air of suspense and curiosity in the film is heightened by scant use of dialogue, which of course is every filmmaker’s cardinal rule - if you get your message across without dialogue in a film, it is likely a good film. 

Putri’s film, rightfully silent, is about the internal struggle a mortician faces when asked to literally doll up the daughter of a family who met with an accident. The mortician struggles because she is woke and respects individuality, instead of being enslaved to tradition in what is possibly a highly traditional trade bound by considerations of customs and superstitions. What lies on the deathbed is an adrogynous-looking adolescent whose mother is waiting to see feminised all over again, for old times sake. However, after the deceased is all caked up in powder, the mortician gets a creepy sign from a cupboard that refuses to close, telling her the deceased would probably only wear the lacey and exquisite white dress OVER HER DEAD BODY. She is a shirt and pants kind of queer. 

A film with an empowering message at the end, the film seems to tip toe across several genres in its journey to finally reach that split-second point of triumph. It opens like a rather pedestrian but nicely colour-directed family at the beginning. Then it morphs into spa videography with the languid cross-fading of frames as the mortician customarily strokes the face of the deceased with her brush. Then, when that one errant closet kept opening by itself, the horror jump-scare weakling in me edges an inch backward from the screen. Then of course, when the photo frames dropped out of the closet, the film solidified its queer label. And there was one more - the YouTube/TV drama touch with the piping in of a theme song at the end.

Nevertheless, the stylistic excesses and the occasional genre trips were ironed out by what is evidently an economical script with measured editing. The film sits on the fence between being a festival worthy film with its taboo quotient and being consumable YouTube content with its safe storytelling treatment. Not exactly a sweet spot but its message is clear. 

Golden Frames in the Closet is screening at Minikino Film Week (MFW) and in competition for the MFW National Competition category. 

Review by Jeremy Sing

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