Nathan Silver's Soft in the Head opens on an explosive note, with Natalie, a 25-year-old, in an intense conversation with her boyfriend, for reasons that aren't specifically given. The arguement becomes physical and abusive, which ends with Natalie thrown out on the streets of New York. Soft in the Head is very much a film living in the moment of its characters, not interested at all in giving any type of backstroy to the viewers. "A slice of life" description would be accurate but sounds far too charming for a film like Soft in the Head, being a tough, tragic story. Disheveled doesn't even begin to describe Natalie, a directionless alcoholic that seems to never actually be consciously aware of the world around her. The circumstances of how she got to this point are never given, but it's clear she wasn't always this way given her relations with the Jewish family. The basic narrative involves her crashing her friend's family holiday meal, seducing her socially inept brother, and taking full advantage of the kindness of others to get by. Natalie's other primary stop is at a shelter that is run by a deeply kind man in Maury, who takes an interest in trying to geniunely help Natalie. Featuing fantastic performances from everyone involved, Soft in the Head is the type of film that feels geniune from start to finish, with the viewer questioning whether the filmmaker used real people instead of actors. Sheila Eteberria gives a raw and poignant performance as Natalie, which along with all the characters at the shelter create a natural portrait of the sadder, darker side of New York City. Soft in the Head is a film that essentially evolves through its narrative, becoming not a film about Natlie per se, but the mixing pot of New York City itself, capturing the 'hustle and bustle' of urban life. The cinematography uses lots of tight framing and claustrophobic compositions visually expressing the enclosed, cramped space of New York City. What makes Soft in the Head such a great film though is Natalie's story, a character who slowly becomes empathetic to the viewer, even without knowing anything about her past. She is not a character you will love, but through Natalie, Nathan Silver captures the downward spiral that can consume the psyche of individuals, as they plummet towards rock bottom, drowining in deeply buried sorrow. Nathan Silver's Soft in the Head packs some heavy emotional weight, being a natural-feeling, unmanipultative story of a woman falling fast towards rock bottom with deeply tragic results.
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