Alzheimer's has always been a compelling subject to cinema and has been addressed in many films, both as a central issue and a secondary one. Florian Zeller's "Father," starring Anthony Hopkins, is one of the most recent and most well-known examples of the films focusing on the subject of memory loss. In "Still Alice," directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, also the effects of Alzheimer's on the life of a woman living with the condition are pictured. Alice, who has three children, is a linguistics professor living a quiet life. Lecturing one of her classes, she forgets a few words, and when she learns she has Alzheimer's, her family ties are challenged. Apart from these recent examples, Christopher Nolan's “Memento”, and Michel Gondry's “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” that teats the same subject of memory from different angle can be named.
In the short film "Martha's Day" the audience are presented with a new form of the problem of Alzheimer's. Here, what propels the story forward is the painful loneliness of the main character, Martha. Martha is an elderly woman who seems to be living in some corner of the world, isolated from everything and everyone. A fragile, delicate woman whose isolation in the very first scenes engages the viewers in an emotional empathetic relationship with her to the extent that they can readily identify with her.
Martha’s whole world is summed up in the house she is in. A house that seems to be a symbol of her inner world, of her mind, a house devoid of the sounds, warmth, and passion of life. A silent house, where one finds scary, threatening signs anew every day, figures out what they mean every night in utter horror and terror, and dolefully gives in to sleep until tomorrow when this vicious circle is repeated all over again. Martha's loneliness becomes the bedrock on which the director, Sofia Monzerratt, builds up her spectacular film. She uses this loneliness and its features to create Martha's world, introduce her to the audience, foreground her among the objects, and determine her relationship with her surroundings at the heart of this striking visual description: a relationship that will eventually lead to her nervous breakdown.
Besides its artistic dramatization of loneliness, the film also constantly catches the viewers by surprise. It repeatedly exposes the audience to new things so that they need to revise their previous understandings of what they have already seen. They have to be careful when watching “Martha's Day,” patiently pay attention to every detail, and know that the film is not going disclose the story straightforwardly. The film creates its own special system of symbols from the signs it has introduced here and there, which continually surprises the audience more than before, and as the film proceeds, they feel, despite the progress of the film, they now know less about the beginning and are even bewildered. This feature of the film can be considered rare among many of this year’s shorts. Few short films have been able to achieve such special AV dimension in constructing a visual language that can advance the story without using dialogues. The filmmaker has succeeded not only in advancing the story without a single word, but also in creating a stunning atmosphere.
Sofia Monzerratt (who has paid a lot of attention to the aesthetic aspects of the image in her other work VISUAL POETRY: SELF LOVE as well) creates brilliantly outstanding frames in "Martha’s Day" that center around the life of an elderly woman. Some of these frames can be considered as instances of visual maturity in short cinema. She has the ability to enhance and deepen the film’s visual effects as the story progresses and unfolds. One only has to notice the frames from the beginning to the end of the film, and the lighting of the scenes during this painful day in Martha's life.
The film is by no means short of imaginative and cinematic scenes.
One of the most breathtaking scenes is where Martha (now aware of her tragic condition) is sitting and smoking, and in the background the viewer can see her dancing with her husband, a scene that diminishes the gap between the past and the present, yet shows the past as vaguely as it is in Martha's mind: a blurred picture of the good old days that are hard to remember.
“Martha’s Day” is teeming with brilliant plays of light and color that create seamless time shifts around Martha, a fragile and declining woman played by Rhoda Pell, as the center of the changes. "Martha’s Day" can be seen and enjoyed from different angles: as a cohesive short film, as a great example of cinematography, as an admirably exceptional film that affirms the important role of sound tape, and so on.