December 11, 2020


Film has its own language and Dr. Sophia Romma can speak that language in spades. This film is a true experiment with phantasma coupled with neo-realism. USED AND BORROWED TIME appears to depict magic realism with the wave of a wand that leaves its mark upon the history of cinema. The narrative of the film is based upon a true historical event of a white supremacist family and its unleashing of perverse racism upon an innocent African American youth and his blind Jewish girlfriend, set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. The film tells a universal truth. With an excellent script woven with fantasy, the film clearly portrays the fairy tale American life of the times in harsh juxtaposition with the menace of bigotry and prejudice which looms back in the day, and returns with gusto only now bearing a chameleon face in the 21st Century. Simply wonderful representation of the story through superb acting further establishes the film as uniquely experimental yet heart-wrenching. The editing of the film strictly follows the script without any meandering, keeping with pace of the director's vision. Frame by frame presentation of the thoughts and actions of the miserable Woods Clan keeps our eyes attuned in horror to the racist tradition of the mad redneck family and proves Sophia Romma's extensive research in writing the screenplay. The substantive film content which moves the audience to tears pays homage to the French New Wave and to Italian Neo-realism in its adherence to remarking upon the lives of those scraping by, hanging on to the thin threads of society's periphery. It is a must see movie for those who admire the language of film and appropriately appreciate experimental film.

This film stretches the word "experimental" in the pantheon of experimental film. This means that some experimental techniques have been used by the film-maker to allow her film to steer far away from tradition Hollywood films. It can proudly be said that Sophia has been able to complete this mission successfully. The storyline revolves around the racist American attitude which burgeoned among whites and their far right clans in the Sixties when the Civil Rights Movement was at its apogee. An African American civil rights advocate and poet is the counterpoint in Romma's film. The film intelligently unmasks how a love-a tender relationship between a Jewish girl and a black American young boy is jeopardized and how the supremacist clan annihilated the youth from this corporeal world. This blatant ruthless injustice serves as the theme of the film. For added flavor and further prophetic commentary, Sophia shows that similar racism and prejudicial events are mysteriously blanketing contemporary earth and this is shown in her drama phantasma, which is a novel feature of her film. The shifting shadowy frames of the camera shots create a claustrophobia as Roman Polanski had achieved in his film, Repulsion. This is an incredibly bold style of filming as it causes the spectators to concentrate on the actions and words of the characters entrapped by a sense of debilitating shacked sadism. In essence, the director makes it clear that time has been used and time has been borrowed and that this is the backbone of the thought process adopted by Sophia Romma and it works on the silvers screen.

USED AND BORROWED TIME is a film that fashions its own language in rude jarring verse which is seldom found today. Steering clear from the traditional, technological advances of contemporary film, Romma stimulates verbally, visually and shuns the essence of modern impoverished cinema. The director shows that the strongest language is indeed the language of the cinema. The costumes are brilliant as is the set design and true to the epoch. The intricate dialogue always presents a cinematic language in full bloom so that nothing more needs to be explained linguistically as we are shocked but not apprehended. The concept of this particular film language used by Sophia Romma was first seen in the New Wave Movement in cinema in the European continent but Romma ups the ante to a million degrees. The characters are fully fleshed out and represent the potent message of social change in a compact way. Naturally, the film has not merely morphed into a bland narrative of the history of the civil rights movement, nor is it a mimicry in the documentation of the segregation in the South during that tragic time in American history. On the contrary, the distinct film language, its call for justice and social change serves as a serious commentary on the ills that still plague American society to this day. This film should be taught in film schools as a lesson for creative filmmakers who are not afraid to take risks. Dr. Sophia Romma's in depth historical research has been successful and so has her film.

Of course, a film is largely dependent on the editing process. In viewing Used and Borrowed Time, the editing has never failed to align with the director's ideas and motifs which is a compliment to Sergio Voronin and Reval Film Studio (Estonia). Well-paced editing had led to maintaining the thought process of the director and has made the film more attractive and illustrative to watch. The cinematography is precise and fair to the storyline which artistically captures the reality of the oppressive environment. The usage of the camera has been measured, well metered devoid of the the pompous extravaganza of contemporary films. The actors in their respective roles such as Cam Kornman (Older Eva Gold), Emily Seibert (Younger Eva Gold), Alice Bahlke (Kitty O'Neill/Lorna Woods) and Grant Morenz (Wade Woods) are delicate neurotic characters and manifest the motto of the theme in subtle yet moving performances. The usage of low-key light is measured and apropos to create the disunity and chaos in the film. USED AND BORROWED TIME is a film that prevails with such a a harmonious collective crew and cast who worked competently and artistically under the control of the director. Such audacious film work can only be compared with the legendary films which had also followed in the footsteps paved by the New Wave. The sound design is also complimentary and Alex Voronin does a superb job. Apart from the technological side, the art inherent in this unprecedented film provides a surreal yet truly unique experience in cinema. The script has translated into the world of film by finding a new niche to present an artistic point of view with a clear prescient message.

In today’s world, film has concentrated its target on making money. However, USED AND BORROWED TIME obviously stays away from the gloss and the glamour. The basic pertinent thought expressed in verse in this film, the particular amalgamation of drama, the blending of fantasy with history, the infusing of this drama phantasma with neo-realism has no forefathers. What Sophia Romma has contributed to the world of cinema with her film is the commencement of another chapter in the history of cinema. Sophia and her film will create a revolution in the world of cinematic thinking.

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