“Unbroken” is a Mira Simboroba short film that centrally focuses on domestic violence and its effect on children. In the just over 18 minutes long film, which features the Johnson family, the major focus is on one child, Ada Ameh.
The young boy, who looked to be about twelve years old, is the sole conductor of the negative atmosphere in his home. Unbroken is a story with a message. By applying the use of brilliant camera angles, cinematography, sound and soundtrack, you can catch yourself re-watching it unconsciously.
Simboroba’s film, Unbroken, transports viewers to the closets of those who are abused verbally and physically. It is one way to get an insight into what happens behind closed doors. Its effect is depicted in their son’s poor academic performance. Years later, there is also a trail of how his past forms the man he becomes. The story brings to the limelight all the deep-seated issues one might face in a violent home.
The story opens up with a child seeking transport fare from his mother.
She then refers him to his father instead. He approaches his father, who gives an unwarranted backlash saying, “When I was your age I used to trek.” Certainly, he could just have said no if he didn’t have the money.
Obviously, the wife knows of his incapability to provide the measly sum and she calls him a “shameless man” in front of her son. It is evident that if something as minor as a request for transport money could lead to such an outburst, a greater request from the child may lead to worse. It presents the extent of trouble in paradise in just a few minutes from the opening scene.
Dumbari might be a child, but there are brilliant child actors and he’s not one. The actor does an okay job in the short film. However, his failed attempt at expressing himself is shown in the Principal’s office. He is told that he would have to repeat and subsequently has ‘one expression’ for every subsequent word the principal says.
Now, the principal is another matter entirely. If you’re a sucker for great acting and nothing else, then you may want to fast-forward to after his scene. This scene was also longer than necessary since it took forever for the Principal to staple the letter. However, the message was passed across.
1. Dumbari is failing and needs to repeat.
2. Dumbari fears his parents.
3. Mr Principal is not a fantastic actor.
The young boy is also verbally abused by his parents.
In addition, he is a witness to their frequent violence against each other. Eventually, he retaliates and dares to hit his father with something (watch the film to find out what it is). Dumbari runs out of the house — maybe away from home. However, that’s where the climax ends as you’re taken to a scene that reveals an older Dumbari, 23 years later.
Even though blood doesn’t spill initially, you might burst a vein trying to find the relationship between the older scene and the new one with this 23-year lapse. Even with the perfect lighting, and a great job directing the cast, the story may have its own lapses. The casts after the 23-year lapse were fine — just fine and nothing special.
Domestic violence is an issue faced in many homes. Although some people are too victimised to voice out their plight, many have come out of the closet in recent times. The older Dumbari was left with a choice of whether to follow in his father’s footsteps of abusing his own wife.
Overall, there was an exceptional performance from most characters. The camera angle was good, and the directing and cinematography were brilliant.
A word of advice from Simboroba Films is, “We can decide not to go in the steps of our parents and make the world a better place.”
For the curious cats, there’s more that awaits in the film, Unbroken.