It is easy enough to see why Malayalam short film, Fugue, has won an array of awards. Instead of the usual amnesia that plagued films in the 70s, the film centres around dissociative fugue, which according to this is ‘amnesia in which an individual cannot recall some or all of his or her past. Either the loss of one’s identity or the formation of a new identity may occur with sudden, unexpected, purposeful travel away from home.’
Written and directed by Vivek Jospeh Varughese, Fugue is the story of unrequited love. If this were a Facebook relationship status, their affair would be definitely labelled under ‘it’s complicated’.
The film follows the life of Ashley, played by Rashmi K Nair, who is seen struggling to reconcile her past with her present. There are two things that are made very clear right at the beginning. That Ashley is lonely and has an estranged mother, and that she’s in love. The film plays out in flashback, with Ashley telling her shrink how she met a stranger named Roy, how they became friends, and how she fell in love with him. Why is she telling her shrink all of this? Because Roy’s the only man she’s revealed her past to, and he disappears right after.
The strangest bit of the film, however, isn’t the mystery surrounding Roy. It is the way the shrink concludes right away that the man Ashley’s in love with is a former patient of his. Unless he’s a mutant with the ability to look into the past, there’s no logical way he could have reached that conclusion. In a film that otherwise makes for a decent watch, this bit definitely sticks out like a sour thumb.
The film’s end is disappointing with a rather dissatisfying reconciliation between Ashley and her mother. After an entire film of trying to grapple with the consequences of her mother’s actions – Ashley’s reunion with her mother deserved a bit more than a phone call fading away into the end credits.