Friday, May 12, 2023


Coma (2022) - Bonello Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 1.31.16 PM Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 1.43.39 PM Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 1.44.45 PM Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 1.59.28 PM Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 2.01.13 PM Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 3.40.38 PM Screen Shot 2023-05-12 at 3.39.38 PM We still don't know the full effects of the last two and a half years of Covid-19 pandemic as it plays out in front of our eyes. WHO declares it is over but who knows? Who do we trust anymore? The economic impacts, the long term mental and physical health concerns and all that, we just don't know. We didn't even have enough time to grieve for those we lost. Bertrand Bonello, perhaps one of the best chroniclers of our crazy hyper capitalist society after Olivier Assayas, comes up with the best Covid lockdown era movie yet with Coma, a slim, multi-media father-to-daughter straight talk. And it's great.

The film concentrates on a button-nosed teenager (Louise Labéque, from Bonello's Zombie Child), as she spends most of her time in her room during the lockdown alone. Most of the time, she is glued to her computer or phone. Her constant companion is an internet celebrity Patricia Coma (Julia Faure) who exudes certain authority as she dictates every aspect of her viewer's life during lockdown - cooking lessons, language lessons, daily advices, etc. Coma also sells Simon color pattern memory gizmo called the Revelator that our teen girl is addicted to. And for some reason, however elaborate its blinking buttons game gets, she always wins. It's because she subconsciously knows what comes up next, Coma says. It's the sign that no one has free will as everything is predetermined.

Then there are her Barbie dolls and the doll house that coming back to life in stop motion animation - it plays out like some daytime soap scenarios, repeating the lines of our teen girl's, or anything that's on the news, like Trump courting Kim Jung-un, obviously a manifestation of the girl's regurgitatating what she watches and hear.

It's only in dreams that the teen girl is free. Shot in day for night, the dream takes place in a dangerous and dark forest where everyone's face is smoothed over and constant screams are heard from nearby. She encounters and interacts with dead people in her life there in the forest, including a friend who just got killed, by some home invader, while talking in a google hangout.

Bonello also uses rightfully hallucinatory clips from Henry-Georges Clouzot's Inferno, also Deluze's television lecture where he (or rather the close-up of his mouth, somewhat menacingly and cynically) says he wishes us not to be in the dreams of others, especially in a teenage girl's because it will frighten us.

From 9/11 to Iraq War to major economic crisis in 2008, to global warming then now to the pandemic, the Generation Z has been through a lot in their short semi-adult life. With its crazy kaleidoscopic images and sounds, the short film is an amalgam of what the short-attention-span generation has been going through psychologically and emotionally during the lockdown. But more than anything, Coma is a compassionate love letter from Bonello to his daughter Anna who just turned 18, and to her generation. We do not know what the future will bring. He ends with spectacularly frightening images of natural diasters- giant ice shelf melting off, abalanches and volcanic eruptions- some anthropocene and some not, either cases we have no control over anyway. Coma is more like Bonello saying, "Sorry kids, but at least I understand what you are going through, but the sun rises again tomorrow."