REVIEW: Heritage [2015]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 4 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (France)
Director(s): Damien Kazan
Writer(s): Damien Kazan

“Easy thing to bring someone into this wild world”

Writer/director Damien Kazan is really honing his visual style these last couple of years with a string of gorgeous looking short films able to mesmerize with the sound off. Not that you should turn it off, his narration arrives with the type of resonating philosophizing we often need to hear in order to kick ourselves in the butt and move forward out of the depressive wastelands of our insecure minds. Scores by Jacob Cadmus don’t hurt either with their sweeping crescendos adding a level of emotive power to the rest.

His latest Heritage is similar in scope to Whisper, a quiet work of beautiful frames with voiceover speaking internalized thoughts about the character’s personal world. Whether that previous one was created as catharsis, I don’t know. But this one definitely was. You don’t credit the bicycle in your description as being the one from your childhood if there wasn’t a deeper meaning beyond the universality of the short’s sentiments. Burning it onscreen with such vehemence, releasing whatever demons its “Rosebud”-esque object held is more than merely a plot point.

Shot like a sequence from Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life with a keen eye for kinetic compositions bathed in focused light or awash in an uncontainable sun, the images pass us by as formal vignettes recalling memories of our own. The words spoken by Trevor Riley force us to think of our own fathers—their successes and failures—and wonder how each affected us. It recalls Keanu Reeves‘ immortal words from Parenthood, “You need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” And if we had a bad one we must consciously ensure we don’t repeat his mistakes.

Mathieu Laparade’s boy therefore becomes each one of us, taking his childhood out back to erase it and be reborn into a world where it will not define him. Parents are idols, Gods, only until they squander their position. Sometimes we give them the benefit of the doubt, forgive them blindly because we yearn for the potential of love and protection we’ve read they’re supposed to supply. Even someone like me who had a good childhood with no complaints can understand the calmness born from the destruction onscreen. This is a rising above nightmare, cleaning the slate, and preparing to live unencumbered by the past. The future is ours to make.

Watch Heritage for yourself here.

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