Anu - Reviewed by Alessia Belsito-Riera | Regional News Connecting Wellington



14 minutes

(4 out of 5)

Reviewed by: Alessia Belsito-Riera

A nuanced slice of life, short film Anu beautifully captures grief, mourning, and healing in just a 14-minute of runtime. After a successful international film festival circuit run, you can watch it online through the streaming service MUBI.

When Anu (Prabha Ravi) touches down in New Zealand following her flight from India during the pandemic, her hotel room is austere and impersonal. The grey walls of the room and the clouded sky beyond the window sit in sharp contrast to the bright yellow COVID-19 signage, its positively coded imagery eerily unsympathetic to the state of the world. The first thing Anu unpacks is a man’s jacket, which she hangs on the back of one of two chairs placed around a small table. We come to learn she is mourning the death of her husband as she scrolls through his WhatsApp voice recordings of grocery lists and daily musings – glimpses of the life they had built together. With the world going into lockdown, she must confront her grief head-on and perform a bereavement ritual without help by preparing Pind Daan in quarantine by herself.

 Anu is empathetically and tenderly written and directed by Kiwi Indian filmmaker Pulkit Arora. He looks upon loss with compassion as he sensitively paints the human face of the pandemic. His story is deeply affecting and personal yet universal in its depiction of the human experience. Adam Luxton’s cinematography frames every shot with intention and directness, yet each frame is heavy with visual cues. Wellingtonian Ravi brings a raw intensity to her debut cinematic performance in an almost wordless role. As her character teeters on the brink of emotional collapse, she embodies anguish, anger, determination, and hope throughout the emotional and lonely journey.

I could feel my cheeks burning and my eyes welling up as Anu realises that the voice messages from her husband had disappeared. In Anu, the gut-wrenching, chest-collapsing feeling of loss is distilled into the small moments, the ones in which you truly feel the absence. Not with a bang but with a methodical and quiet whisper, Anu encapsulates the empty space surrounding grief.

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