A rapturous debut, the visual acumen on display in Carlos Lenin's The Dove and the Wolf is simply striking. Lenin's cinematic grammar aims to invoke the congeniality and conflict associated with any meaningful relationship between two disparate souls - the sensual and contentious elements intrinsic to a symbiotic relationship expressed with vivid detail as two young individuals attempt to forge a life together out of the rubble of their traumatic past. Conceptually speaking, the film is relatively straight-forward but extremely mature in approach. It never feels contrived due to it being more interested in evoking affect than crafting a narrative, being, in the end, a stirring film about the corrosive effects the past can lay on the present. Through its central relationship, it exhibits how the interiority of pain and our insular nature - whether withheld consciously to protect or unconsciously due to one's inability to express their pain externally - can be debilitating, even despite another's love and dedication. Featuring some of the most striking cinematography I've seen this year, The Dove and the Wolf aims to subject the viewer to the emotions of its two principal characters through immersion, with one of the film's best attributes being its masterful deployment of shot-reverse-shot to invoke this dichotomy between its central relationship, one of shared love but also insular trauma, The Dove and the Wolf reaches ethereal highs and pain-infused lows, detailing through a largely ambiguous structure the innumerable ways in which bottled up trauma from the past can infect and restrict the present and any meaningful way of moving forward. The textures of the material environment they inhabit as well as their organic profiles are used with striking effect, as the cinematography visually exhibits the oscillating relationship at the fulcrum of its story, one of shared love but also internal conflict which threatens the very foundations of a meaningful relationship in the future. A poignant, stirring debut feature that may lack focus to some but it remains a memorable debut that largely exists on a plane of its own creation
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