Review: Confused (2021)

courtesy of Vilnius International Short Film Festival

In the last decades the gender roles have got so blurred that it is hard for a heteronormative people to grasp its very broad spectre. However, that does not stop some people from trying to act according to the classical representation of their gender, even if that does not correspond to how they feel. That is the case with Danielius, the protagonist of Petras Kuneika’s short film Confused that premiered at the national competition of Vilnius International Short Film Festival.

We meet the gentle young man played by Karolis Legenis holding his pug dog and talking quietly about the dog’s castration to his friends, while one of them plays the flute. The atmosphere is solemn and a bit secretive, but there is a reason for it which is uncovered once Gabre (Kamile Petruškievičiute) enters the place. It is her birthday, making the gathering a surprise party, and her boyfriend Danielius has one more surprise up in his sleeve: he is going to propose. She is not prepared to say yes, so she offers him a gentlemanly exit from the unpleasant situation, but his pride is still hurt.

The real trouble is that Gabre has a more “manly” demeanor than Danielius, as she is more assertive, self-confidant and even capable in doing thing considered manly, which does not sit good with him. So he gets an idea to exercise his domination and force his will upon her, leading the couple to a number of bittersweet mishaps. However, the real question is how much (more) could he possibly mess up before she loses the genuine love for him?

Before making his name as the writer and director of short films, Petras Kuneika studied and actively practised acting, which can be a good sign of him being a proper actors’ director. He uses his acting experience to control his talented cast and to milk some of the unexpected, absurdist humour from the characters’ actions and reactions based on their opposite looks and characteristics. Other than that, he masterfully uses the music composed by Vytautas Oškinis in which the calm flutes alter with the nerve-wrecking strings to create the tension or to release it at just the right moments and the summery-green rural Lithuanian locations captured by the cinematographer Vytautas Plukas to provide the perfect background for his little plot. By editing the material himself, Kuneika keeps the complete control over the film, converting it into a warm and funny short about the contemporary identity confusion.

courtesy of Vilnius International Short Film Festival

Original title: Sutrikimas
Year: 2021.
Runtime: 18’ 02’’
Country: Lithuania
Language: Lithuanian
Directed by: Petras Kuneika
Written by: Petras Kuneika
Cast: Karolis Legenis, Kamile Petruškievičiute, Dainora Olson
Cinematography by: Vytautas Plukas
Editing by: Petras Kuneika
Music by: Vytautas Oškinis
Sound recording by: Marius Pakštas, Aukse Jurevičiute
Production design by: Greta Vileikyte
Costume design by: Ruta Sakalauskaite
Make-up by: Phuong Đinh Thu
Assistant director: Simonas Šaineris
Produced by: Juste Michailinaite
Production company: LMTA