Trauma, dir. Marc Evans

Touchstone Pictures

Starring: Colin Firth, Mena Suvari, Naomie Harris

Reviewed by North

Firth stars as Ben, a struggling artist who awakes in hospital with a fragmentary memory and inconsistent images of the road accident that killed his wife (Harris) and left him badly injured. Everybody in the hospital is engrossed in television reports of a famous female pop singer who has just been murdered, overshadowing his wife's death and making it understandably difficult for Ben to grieve. Moving into a new flat, he finds himself unable to perform basic actions like redecorate without being constantly tormented by memories of what he is leaving behind. He strikes up a friendship, and later a relationship, with his glamorous landlady, Charlotte (Suvari), a spiritualist and namesake of his favourite childhood aunt; but the shadow of his dead wife will not leave him in peace. He is also developing an obsession with the dead singer (whom his wife worked for), and attracting the attention of the police investigating her murder.

Confusion is a central feature of this movie. Ben is constantly confused, sometimes not quite sure where reality ends and fantasy begins. As the story is told in part by traditional narrative, part by conversations with his therapist, and part through his nightmarish visions, the audience is left also wondering what is real and how reliable the first-person protagonist actually is. The plot is not always linear, as we start to learn more not only about the distant past (the accident and before) but the more recent past is retold in a new light also. As Firth becomes more and more distracted and frantic it becomes harder to relate to his character, and we start to wonder what somebody so confused and disassociated from reality is capable of.

The film is a clever representation of the damage that trauma can cause to a sensitive human mind, shown from inside the victim's skull.

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