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Trauma (2023) | Film Review

Trauma (2022) | Film Review

Trauma (2023) | Film Review

Trauma (2023) is a dark but artistic film about a man named Maleek who is haunted by a traumatic experience from a past relationship and struggles to move on. It’s a sinister, mysterious watch, and it invites viewers to reflect deeply on their own opinions surrounding the realities and lies of trauma and mental health.

Trauma, like any other mental illness, is often a hard concept to explore in media. But directors Paul Chiedozie manage to do it in a way that’s as clear-cut as it is ambiguous. They manage to perfectly encapsulate the uncertainty and complexity of trauma and mental illness, all while managing to leave enough room for the audience to interpret the character's situation in their own way. It’s an ambiguous film from start to end, which really helps to represent the confusion and differing interpretations of trauma.

The underlying plot line follows a man whose previous partner committed suicide, and he is left to pick up the pieces. Although he doesn’t know it yet, the trauma is affecting his current relationship, and when his girlfriend attempts to help him, he sees it as a threat.

It’s a gritty, dark film, and the main character is often seen as being tied to a chair, a metaphorical representation of his mind being chained to his trauma. The words “You’re listening to me” and “You need to get help” are repeated in a constant cycle, and on the surface level, they’re meant to help. But as anyone who has experienced trauma before knows, your mind can make it seem as though your closest allies are your worst enemies. Between all the self-hatred and self-blaming, there’s an element of not knowing where those around you stand, and this is something that the film itself portrays in an incredibly nuanced and detailed manner.

Near the end, there seems to be a small glimmer of hope as Maleek agrees to seek professional help. This hope is not-longstanding, however, as Maleek soon finds himself tied to a chair again, but this time alongside his partner. It’s an eerie end to an already dark thriller, and for the audience, it begs the question, will Maleek ever be able to move on from his trauma?

It’s a scary yet refreshing take on a stigmatised topic, as it implies that the experience of dealing with trauma is never a linear journey, and you can take one step forward but then fall two steps back. As a lot of the audience will know, mental health is not usually something that can be cured – rather it is something that often reoccurs and can strike at the unlikeliest of moments. The film is a fantastic representation of that and makes for a perceptive yet gripping tale to watch.

Article by Zaynah Khan


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