(director/writer: Alena Lodkina; cinematographer: Michael Latham; editor: Luca Capelli; music: Ravon Mahon/Mikey Young; cast: Emmett Aldred (Alex), Daniel Alioso (Detritus), Kit Brady-Brown (Film Student), Hannah Lynch (Mia), Nathalie Morris (Eva); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kate Laurie; Alief/Arenamedia; 2022-Australia)

“It’s made for an audience that is not afraid of star-gazing and not afraid to determine for themselves what they are seeing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Russian-born Australian filmmaker Alena Lodkina (“Strange Colours”) writes and directs this heady but slow developing drama, set in Melbourne. It features horror images to infuse into its strange story elements of horror even if not a horror pic. Thereby it’s a film that’s difficult to categorize.

It follows two
twentysomething woman: the more extroverted and enigmatic performance artist Mia (Hannah Lynch), and the more even-keeled idealistic Eva (Nathalie Morris), of Russian descent, a college student studying film. After meeting Mia several times they meet again at a house party and are drawn to each other as they decide to move in together. What the attraction is between them is never made clear, unless Eva is attracted to Mia’s more exciting life.
In one instance Eva
looks at a bathroom mirror and weirdly observes the back of her head (which sounds as if she dropped acid!). The strange story though trippy is meant to be taken as a blend of reality and fiction.

We learn that Mia is in the habit of vanishing for days, leaving her roommate alone. She also might be able to read Eva’s mind. There are hints this might be a ghost story.  

What we can determine is the girls are both lonely and searching for their own identities. 
They both seem to be lost in their own world, seeking an idealized one, and can’t relate to others. Eva has immersed herself into film and is self-absorbed in creating a screenplay. Events are often repeated, making it dull in spots. Everything is kept in an atmospheric limbo.

The critical thinking film is about the vulnerability of youth. It’s a cold one that invites the viewer to come to their own conclusion on what’s up, as it tries to charm us with how amateurish is film’s tone and that the main protagonist, the childish Eva, might have fantasized the story about her desperate need to have a friend.

It’s made for an audience that is not afraid of star-gazing and not afraid to determine for themselves what they are seeing without being told what to see (reminding me of the David Lynch film Eraserhead).

Filmstill zu Petrol (2022) von Alena Lodkina