Human emotions in all their stripped back intensity and twitchy rawness are the subject matter for this one-take short film called Böisé, directed by French filmmaker Nicolas Cambier. The narrative all takes place in one room and portrays an interrogation scene between a woman called Böisé and unseen authorities who question her, somewhat unnervingly, about her son.
The story is told in Mandarin and we see Böisé (the name means both 'vast' and 'small' in Mandarin) through the recording equipment the authorities are using to document the interview. The sound design, like the scenery, is minimal, the humming monotony of a tape recorder and, later, a song sung by her son all adding to the anxiety and restlessness.
Böisé uncomfortably sits throughout the interview while we—equally uncomfortably—witness her, the camera slowly panning inwards, shifting focus until the end when we're hit with surreal and vivid closeups of Böisé's physical inflictions from the ordeal.
Her eyes vibrate from side-to-side and a slick layer of sweat coats her skin. It verges on sci-fi but it's very subtle and very jarring, too. The intimation is that this interview isn't about gathering data or information, but it's to extract actual emotion from Böisé.
Cambier explains that the idea came from feeling out of joint when you're a foreigner in another country; that sense of an alien environment where everything becomes a little bit more sharp and hyperreal. "[Like] paying attention to the smaller details," Cambier tells Creators. "People's intonations, the pace of their sentences, their facial expressions, their body language."
To convey this in the film, the director made the images and sounds especially acute and rich in detail. He worked with The Mill for coloring and VFX and Wave Studios for the sound design and mixing. Cambier also used a stripped back set, focusing mainly on Böisé at the center, where she appears isolated and exposed. Finally by shooting in Mandarin, a language unfamiliar to Cambier and the crew, it helped give the film a further sense of distance and disconnect.
"The catalyst of the film being Böisé's own emotions, I wanted to tell this story on a sensory level rather than a purely narrative one," notes Cambier. "Although the screenplay was written as a drama and not a science-fiction piece, the goal was always to try and reach the audience by the guts so that [they] could take away from the film a sensation over an idea."
Watch it below.
See more of Nicolas Cambier's work at his website here.