Blaze (2022)

Director: Del Kathryn Barton
Writer: Huna Amweero, Del Kathryn Barton
Cast: Julia Savage, Simon Baker, Will McDonald, Josh Lawson, Yael Stone, Sofia Hampson
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2022

Content Note: rape

Blaze (Julia Savage) is withdrawn and a little strange, living mostly in her vivid and colorful imagination. One day, as she walks around town, she becomes a witness to a crime: she watches frozen in a hiding place as Jake (Josh Lawson) rapes and kills Hannah (Yael Stone). Practically catatonic with shock, she makes her way home where the story finally comes out when her father Luke (Simon Baker) asks her about it. But that is only the beginning for Blaze to work through the trauma, and to be able to give a statement in court.

Blaze is a magical movie. Beautifully made and with great sensitivity, it is everything you could hope for and more in feminist fantastic films.

The film poster showing Blaze (Julia Savage) with a little white dragon figure in her mouth. The dragon is spitting fire.

Del Kathryn Barton is an artist first – Blaze is only her first feature (amazingly! Hopefully she makes many more). And she has used her artwork and style a lot in the film – in Blaze’s fantasy world. She gives us absolutely stunning images to go along with Blaze’s story, sometimes disturbing, sometimes cute, sometimes warm and fuzzy, pretty much always glitter. I loved everything about that visual language.

Now, given that there are puppets and glitter that surround this teenage protagonist (Julia Savage is simply amazing, by the way), you might think that Blaze is all cuteness. But that is definitely not the case. Starting with the crime that Blaze witnesses, things get very dark here. And the film lets you feel that dark heaviness, giving you an inkling of what Blaze must be going through. But the thing is, with the help of Blaze’s imagination and a few good people along the way, all that darkness, all that horror – Blaze can carry it. She can bear it. She can work through it. And we can do that with her.

Blaze (Julia Savage) with feather-like make-up glued around her eyes.

It’s not an easy path and it’s definitely not a linear one, but that is the core of the film: that Blaze (and all of us) can heal. That she is not broken (and we are neither). That she is strong, no matter how little she can feel it (as are we). The process of learning that is shown with a whole lot sensitivity and feeling. And in the end, we all left the cinema uplifted and empowered, feeling like we have also healed a little bit. That is feminist practice around such violence as rape and femicide. That is caring. And that is the magic of film.

Blaze (Julia Savage) talking to her father Luke (Simon Baker).

Summarizing: I have no words for how much I loved this.

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