Review: Interrogation (2021)

Courtesy of Lithuanian Shorts

Police work is usually anything like what we see on cop shows. Interrogation is usually not a battle of wits, but a negotiation game between people who mostly know each other. Even the victims, not to mention witnesses, are often unwilling to cooperate, and since the police investigators cannot be omnipresent and offer help at any given moment, they end up stuck with the same criminals in the aftermath. And also, the job takes its toll…

Two police interrogations conducted by the investigator named Aleksandra (Laima Aksinaité), one with a small-time criminal with prospects of a long career in the trade, Andrius (Karolis Kasperavičius), and one with a witness / victim of human trafficking, Viktorija (Augusté Ona Šimulynaité) are the subject of the Urté Sabutyté’s short film Interrogation that has just premiered at Vilnius International Film Festival – Kino Pavasaris.

The year is 1999 and Aleksandra has been summoned from Vilnius to an unnamed smaller town to investigate a case of human trafficking connected to the international prostitution ring. The content of her interrogations and even her findings is not what makes this short film stand out. She might not know Andrius in person from before, but Andrius knows who she is and knows enough about her life to try to derail her in order to withhold useful information. Viktorija knows her position and is also unwilling to cooperate. There is no triumph of justice here, just the sense of fatigue and detachment.

The reason why Interrogation stands out, apart from its perfect production design with its knowledge of the given period, is the elegance of its construction and execution. The film consists only of a few shots, one per scene, with the precise control of camera movement. The camera simply orbits around Aleksandra, follows her from the back as she walks down the hallways of the police station, turning the shots subjective when she’s asking questions and moving away to show us the rooms. Matched with some pleasantly restrained acting and with the sound design that registers everything from the hallway murmur to the unpleasant silence during the questioning, Interrogation is an absorbing film.

Original title: Apklausa
Year: 2021
Runtime: 14’ 23’’
Country: Lithuania
Language: Lithuanian
Directed by: Urté Sabutyté
Written by: Urté Sabutyté, Simonas Jaktonis
Cast: Laima Aksianité, Karolis Kasperavičius, Augusté Ona Šimulynaité
Cinematography by: Ugnius Tuleikis
Editing by: Urté Sabutyté
Sound design by: Kipras Dominas
Production design by: Tadas Klimavičius
Costume design by: Marija Garnak
Make-up by: Fiona Dinh Thu
Colourist: Justinas Vencius
Assistant director: Urté Aškelovičiuté
Produced by: Dagné Vildžiunaité
Production companies: Just a Moment, Lietucos muzikos ir teatro akademija (LMTA)
Supported by: Lietuvos kino centras, City of Kaunas, Kaunas Film Office