EUFF 2017 Review: “Gozo” (2016) ★★★★

How do we cope with the death of a loved one? Do the spirits of the deceased communicate with those they have left behind? And what if the one who is left behind is in fact at fault for losing their beloved person? So many questions that we’d want to have answers to. Some of them are raised in “Gozo” written and directed by Miranda Bowen. The film explores a very interesting concept, and the viewer will have to get into the mind of the protagonist to understand what has gone wrong.

In the opening scene, we see a redhead woman (Olivia Grant), who anxiously tries to pass through the crowd in a nightclub. From the expression on her face, we can predict that something terrible is about to be revealed to her. She walked toward a balcony and finds her boyfriend – Joe (Joseph Kennedy) having sex with another girl. All that she says is: “Joey, why are you doing this to me?” This question will be heard several times throughout the film. Joey, realizing what he has done, runs after his girlfriend but is unable to find her. In the meantime, the young woman – lost in despair – goes towards the nearby canal to jump to her death.

Six months later, we see Joey in a seemingly steady relationship with the new girlfriend Lucille (Ophelia Lovibond), who also happens to be a redhead. The couple travels to Gozo – an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The breathtaking views, beaches, and the beautiful house create a perfect atmosphere for the lovebirds to enjoy their perfect vacation. Things turn drastically when Joey sees Lucille get into a car with an unknown man. He has never met the man before. He helplessly watches the car leave. A moment later, he sees the poster of a missing woman who looks like Lucille. Terrified, Joe quickly jumps into his car and goes after them.

The film starts in a very interesting way. It seems that we know a lot about Joey’s past. In fact, we know nothing about his job or even hobbies. All we see is him, always walking around with a big microphone, to record the noises his human ear can or cannot catch. As those noises or sounds become stronger and stronger, they get deeper into his mind. As he tries to comprehend every sound he hears, his personality and even his sanity start to slowly disappear. Meanwhile, his mind is all the time preoccupied with what the sounds tell him, and they even guide him to a place from where he may never be able to come back.

In conclusion, the more you think about “Gozo”, the more you like it more. At least, that’s how it has worked for me. Bowen’s directorial debut and the story she has written is tempting and engaging. She has clearly done a lot of research and studied man’s mind, as well as what the feeling of guilt and the implication of a suicide can do to a person when that person partially responsible for those tragic events. What happens with Joey or with his relationship with Lucille is fascinating and scary at the same time. And by the time the film reaches its end, you will find yourself having a lot of questions. but do not be surprised, since that’s part of the beauty of “Gozo”. It will grab you from the beginning and will never let you go afterward, even if you want to.

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