The Ribbon on the Kite
Review by Mark Schwab
April 25th, 2018
We have all seen them; shaggy and unkempt men sitting on the street up a against a building, head down, sometimes talking to themselves since no one else wants to even acknowledge their presence beyond the slimmest amount of avoidance. And, yes, I do wonder to myself sometimes how in the world has this guy ended up here...like this? THE RIBBON ON THE KITE, writer/director Gianlorenzo Albertini’s beautiful and award-winning short film, profiles one such man and let's you into his life if only for a few days.
The man in question is Daerik and we learn about him and his background through clever sound design coming through his broken wind-up radio. The scratchy walkie-talkie sounds of soldiers shouting orders and gunfire indicate a mission gone horribly wrong and even though this is years in the past, Daerik is tortured by his fellow soldier's voices from the grave. In fact, it is almost the only thing he hears which has driven him into the depths of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and homelessness. He barely gets through each day with some exercise, washing up and self-medicating through drinking alcohol.
The other character we get introduced to is a young woman named Rebecca. She seems to be in much better shape - attractive, put together and living in a nice home - but it is a cover for emotional wounds as well since her brother was also affected by war and remains missing. To honor him, she flies a bright red kite in a local park which just happens to be in Daerik's field of vision near the water aqueduct he hangs around. The red kite superimposed against a blue sky draws him towards it and sets off the events which will change both him and Rebecca.
As the mentally disturbed Daerik, Greg Hill kind of pulls off the impossible by making this character achingly human and relatable. He's a total mess of course but Hill never condescends to the audience with scenery chewing or mugging for the camera. He lets his face (and it's a great face - lined and weary) and eyes draw you in and I found myself very quickly invested in the character emotionally. It's really great work, showing that Hill had no inner judgement for this character. Yuliya Yusupova also brings a compassionate innocence to Rebecca that transcends simple victimhood in her reactions which is nicely done.
Director Albertini works perfectly with cinematographer Aric Coppola to form gorgeous imagery within the urban jungle that symbolizes Daerik's anguished state of mind and Rebecca's lonely heart without drawing attention to itself. Oh, I almost forgot, the movie has almost no dialogue for its entire 17-minute running time and you know what? I didn't even notice the absence until the end of the film. The visuals are so strong and so confident that the entire story is clear and heartbreaking without ever once needing to spell it out.
THE RIBBON ON THE KITE superbly humanizes the terrible problem facing our returning war veterans without sermonizing or hurling blame. Instead it does something much more impressive - it makes the viewer feel, understand and empathize through a powerful artistic statement.