For I Am Dead: Film Review
Filmmaker Patricia Delso Lucas gets existential in her time period surreal short film For I Am Dead. Stuck in the 1800s, a wealthy man cannot live a truly authentic life and runs from his homosexual desires for his estate gardener, until his own negative thoughts start projecting onto his reality.
Al Nazemian offers a haunting performance as the lead, Oscar. His honesty and fright on screen cuts into your core. He plays two roles, one as the carefree affluent estate owner with all the pleasures of the world. The other is the inner Oscar explored through pained voiceover, the one that is self-loathing, listless, and yearning for his gardener played by Riggsby Lane. The tension between Nazemian and Lane is unsettling and heartbreaking all at once, leaving you mystified.
Oscar’s inner self is reflected outside through psychological horror devices which include angry estate maids chanting negative thoughts and his own detachment from himself literally making him ill. The editing increases the feeling of Oscar’s insanity, with jump cuts and odd sound design. The string-led orchestral soundtrack adds to the unease, keeping you on the edge wondering what is real and what isn’t.
The experience amounts to a psychological roller coaster complete with stunning visuals led by director of photography Dominika Podczaska. Much like how Oscar lives in the darkness in his head, his home is sparsely lit and decorated, reclusive. Its emptiness reflects Oscar’s inner emptiness.
Lucas dives into the difficulty of being in the minority of thought, of feeling gaslit in an environment that convinces you that you are wrong when in reality you are just different. She shows how difference can not only feel threatening outwardly, but also inwardly. Oscar’s feelings tear him apart, he feels punished.
Lucas and her team carry For I Am Dead into a surreal space that keeps you thinking long after the film is over. Nazemain’s performance as Oscar sticks in the mind, leaving behind a haunting truth about humanity, that we would rather convince ourselves we are wrong than truly pursue what we desire most, especially if that means going against the grain.
Director Biography - Patricia Delso Lucas
Patricia Delso Lucas is an independent screenwriter, film director and cinematographer who earned her MFA in Film Directing at the Skillset Screen Academy in Scotland. She was born in Madrid, Spain and is currently based in Brussels, Belgium. Her graduation work was nominated for the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award in 2010. Then, she participated in various international workshops focused on directing narrative films at NYU, at Sundance Shorts Lab, at Cineuropa.org, at the Prague Film School, at London Film School and at the Maine Media Workshops. She also studied cinematography at the Global Cinematography Institute in Los Angeles. Her work ranges from narrative drama to dark comedy to audiovisual poems and documentaries. The stories she feels drawn to writing and directing are heavily character-driven, and the audiovisual world she builds around them often has a thin line between the real and the surreal.