Middleground (2017), reviewed by Kary Stevick

Middleground (Осколки in Russian)- is an English film directed by Alisa Khazanova, released in 2017. It follows a single couple over the course of a short business trip, looking at the holes in their relationship. Infidelity, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, smoking, English dialog- the movie had everything. And yet it left me confused and wanting more.

One of the most interesting things about this film, to me, was the plot and scene sequence. The couple was always at the same restaurant, having the same conversation (with one or two extra words added each time), with one or two scenes that seemed like flashbacks thrown in between. For the longest time I assumed the director was trying to show that they were repeating the same day, quite literally. But after further contemplation, it seemed as if the main goal of the director was to force the audience to look at different perspectives. Of the restaurant, relationship, people, etc. This couple WAS having dinner at the same restaurant every night they were there, and this provided an excellent somewhat familiar environment for audience to notice the changes when they occurred.

Another aspect that stood out was the director’s use of sound perspective. When the restaurant was crowded, we could barely hear the married couple speak. But in that same setting, when the man the wife has an affair with sits at the table with her, the background chatter is suddenly gone. The audience is forced to listen, and is signaled that this is important. At the beginning of the movie the restaurant is empty, we can hear the couple bicker, and while we can’t hear them perfectly every other time they are eat, we know that they are having the same conversation. When we see bits of the wife’s affair, the actions and dialog are rarely ever matched. To me, this signaled that it didn’t really matter what they were saying or doing, but the whole act of them being together was what we needed to pay attention to.

Almost two weeks later, I could not tell you what exactly the movie was about. The cinematography was beautiful, the acting was great, the story was interesting.image