Aaaaah…! There are some films that draw you in from the first frame. The type of film where you sit still, rapt, in no rush for a snack break not out of fear of missing something but fear of leaving the world you’ve been pulled into, one you dare not leave.
“Donoma” is one such film.
Set in Paris, the film interweaves the stories of a few crazy Parisians from different backgrounds just trying to understand love and life with natural-feeling dialogue. The film is heralded for its guerilla filmmaking and it certainly champions the case for abandoning hi-tech equipment for true artistry and style. No $20,000 cameras can make your film sing if it’s wack, and Haitian-born fledgling director Djinn Carrenard understood this, or perhaps was fortunate and clever enough to create such a beautiful, intimate, warm film without the bells and whistles.
The three women “Donoma” focuses on are every bit of insane in their own rights, pushing boundaries on neuroses, and their interactions with others are hilarious and often poignant.
Spotting Dama across the subway, virgin photographer Chris invites this stranger to her home and insists on embarking on a silent relationship to strengthen the tenuous bond formed from their random sex. After weeks of charades and letter passing, there is need for a break in the silence, the catalyst of which is telling given the nature of their relationship and says much about insecurities that fantasies cannot mask. Dama’s story evolves here and provides a beautiful color to the relationship that was hidden in darkness.
Analia, a Spanish (as in, from Spain and teaching Espanol) teacher has the strangest of encounters with one of her insolent students, Dacio. Their interactions are disturbingly erotic peppered with crass, crude and caustic language. Love it!
The weakest of the three tales involves Dacio’s girlfriend Salma. The poor little rich girl entertains conversations with his friend and her therapist about her agnosticism, while obsessing over a praying man on a train. Despite being her sister’s caretaker, she wakes early to stalk the mystery man but never arrives on time to meet him on the train. Their eventual encounter is odd, creepy, and unsatisfying as well as too drawn out. It also ends the film with a bad taste in your mouth after all the peanut buttery goodness before it. Luckily, the credits come in with good music and an entertaining montage to remind us of what we enjoyed before that point.
At a little over two hours, watching “Donoma” feels like discovering a delightful show on Netflix and watching the whole season in an afternoon. When it’s done, you’re hungry for more and disappointed that there’s nothing left to devour.
Hopefully, the director will give us more deliciousness to taste soon. His most recent film, “Faire L’Amour” (“Making Love”) made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year, as an International Critics’ Week sidebar selection. Sadly, neither is currently available in the USA. You’d have to purchase DVD copies overseas, to watch on your multi-region (or region free) player.