TIFF 2021: “Together”

© Courtesy of TIFF

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Suicide is like an epidemic – one that somehow absorbs the human mind to nurture death and give it a deeper meaning than life itself. It’s hard even to begin describing what people go through when they decide that it’s time to go. But what happens if there is a chance to reverse such a fateful decision?

Written and directed by Albert Shin, “Together” follows two strangers who meet online and decide to visit a motel by the sea to commit suicide together. Going by nicknames only, within a short amount of time, the two connect more than they could’ve imagined. What was meant to be the last rendezvous with life turns into a life-changing journey that will help the two cross the boundaries of acceptance and enjoy life to the fullest.

Driven by South Korea’s high rates of suicide via online suicide pacts, where two strangers make a pact to die together somewhere in a hotel makes “Together” more than just fictional. When Happy Virus (her online user ID), whose real name we don’t know, meets Rabbit Doll X, the man shares with the young woman a commitment towards ending life. We don’t know much about them. But once we get to know them, we want the strangers to succeed not just by changing their minds and continue living life, but also find closure to what bothers them and move on, in whatever direction they choose for themselves.

That said, “Together” is another intelligent film coming from the fascinating and deep thinking filmmaker Albert Shin, whose previous film, “In Her Place”, talked about a similar subject but through empathy. His new short does not talk about suicide itself but rather that brief Intimate moment that leads two people into their final destination. One way or another, the film suggests an inevitable conclusion. But as the story unfolds, you will realize Shin is not here to provide a clichéd ending. It’s a life story fit into a short film whose impact will last, have no doubt, longer than its 12 minutes of runtime.

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