First published March 21st 2018
At some point in our lives, we will inevitably experience the loss of a loved one. It’s a sad and bitter truth of human life, and we will all experience grief in different ways. The subject of Amanda Lago’s new short, Mrs. Poucheau is about an individual’s experience with loss and grief and addresses our fears of mortality.
The film is only a few minutes long and it almost feels as if we are watching somebody’s life flash before their eyes as they take their final breath. It’s a beautiful montage of short clips, all involving the same woman Cachito Noguera throughout different points of her life and her journey overcoming grief and loss.
We start with her dressed in a yellow sweater and white skirt leaning against a timber beam, in a brightly lit room, with her back turned away from the camera, we cut to her face and she wears a sad smile, looking into the distance, remembering a happier time. We see the same one darting around the beam, playing with someone we can’t see, she’s happier, full of life and energy. Although we can’t see her companion on screen, we can tell that they bring her great joy.
In direct contrast the the warm glow of the scene just before, we cut to the same woman stood in the bathroom, tying back her hair, the lighting is cool, bleak and the camera is tight on her face, the life and energy she had before has vanished and she stands still, like a statue.
The bright clothes have gone and she is wearing a white t-shirt, she is now deprived of colour in her world. In another scene we see her lying alone in a bed, naked with blue silk’s covering her body, and seems vulnerable and fragile, compared to the strong woman we see laughing and playing outside.
The woman delivers a voice over narration, discussing her lost companion, with beautiful lines like “Around you everything would smile.” and whenever we see these flashbacks, glimpses into the past Mrs Poucheau is always smiling, not just with her mouth but her eyes as well. As she talks to her lost companion, she confides that she has gone on trying to live without them, but it’s clear that she’s in pain.
In fact, she is almost seems angry with the person shown by the line “Do you know what? I went on doing stuff too.” Often, those who a grieving will become angry with the person they have lost, and angry with themselves for being unable to prevent it. And, that’s what makes this film seem so real, and speaking truthfully about the stages of grief. It seems quite personal, and I wonder whether director Amanda Lago is possibly drawing on her own experiences.
We see Mrs Poucheau in a range of different settings, gardening, drinking coffee in a cafe, watching the sunset, but she’s always alone, distracting herself by staring at teaspoons and talking to her lost companion in her head. The film is very interesting, because it allows you to come to your own conclusions about this woman’s life and just who she has lost.
We also don’t quite know the chronological order of these moments we are witnessing, In my opinion, I wonder whether she is trying to replicate these moments of happiness on her own, and when we see her dancing, she is in the present, this would explain the empty chair and the empty wine glass beside her full glass.
It ends on such a beautiful moment, with Mrs Poucheau lying in leaves, laughing and looking up directly into the camera, breaking the fourth wall and showing us that life does go on. It seems to offer us some hope and reassurance in a subtle and very honest way.
With Noguera’s performance, Lago’s direction, Diego Aldabaldetrecu’s cinematography and music by Horror Vacui, this is a a film which captures the beauty of life. It’s quite profound and beautiful in a way that I haven’t quite experienced before, like a visual poem or an eulogy, touching and moving. Lago certainly has an unique visual style, and I’m eager to seek what wonders she creates next.