Director Vanda Ladeira chooses a familiar story of a dichotomy between desire and destiny but to present the story of conflict; she takes a complete leap of faith. She chooses drama, rather a form of exaggerated drama, but she puts no dialogue. The nine minutes seventeen seconds long movie is nowhere just a cinema but an experience of a lifetime. The film transcends us to the world where expressions and the narration of the mundane plot plays the real game.
The plot is somewhat simple. The story is, when seen from a linear perspective, not experimental. However, the director gets experimental in the way she presents the same black shadow that falls between desire and destiny. Alder, the Guardian Spirit of the forest is caught in the dilemma of choosing between herself and her duty. The facade of passion looks more promising most of the time, and the director does not bring anything new to this. She sticks to the old wine. She makes the desire look more appealing, but she gives her protagonist a healthy attitude. The film is all about how she skilfully picks up a side even though she has to undergo a great deal of deprivation. The film consciously attracts with a dramatic presentation of the plot where the elements of fantasy are fetched directly from the pages of fables.
Alder is the protagonist who is the protector of the forest and is bestowed with the responsibility to safeguard it no matter what. The forager, a young and strikingly attractive man, enters the forest and knocks the heart of Alder who dwells in a woman’s body. Alder is mature whereas the latter is into tearing wild berries and smashing mushrooms with a careless air. Alder is motherly and sincere as she becomes cautious while crossing the threshold of her ethical territory and looks intimidated to have betrayed her children by indulging herself into something as humane as love and affection. On the contrary, the forager is childish. He is almost like one of her children from the forest who seems to be lost and is not fully aware of what he is doing.
Alder is the crafty antithesis of sensibility and sensitiveness, emancipated and confined and finally tough and tender while the forager is baffled even when he is touching her.
The acting is remarkable from both of their parts. The vulnerability of Alder when feeling the touch of a human that she had been craving for is expressed through her brightened eyes and astonished expression of the latter astoundingly presents the gullibility of the forager.
The narration or the narrative style is undoubtedly the game-changer here. A film with no single dialogue iterates an abundance of emotions and exchanges thousand unspoken words silently with sheer extravagance. However, this extravagance never looks extra, and that is where it is a path-breaking experience that the audience is gifted with. The background score and the spirits of the forest have been incorporated in the film so intelligently that one can never ignore them and would instead find himself to be a part of the entire journey through them. The element of drama is narrated through the dancing spirits who through their body language and appropriate expressions, add a tone to the story. That is where the film never makes us regret the lack of any dialogue.
The film leaves no context of negative criticism because it almost achieves the notion of perfection. The film is neither too long to make it boring nor too short to curtail the essence. Bernard Shaw’s “No Conflict No Drama” has been perpetually given a structure of precisely the opposite “No Drama No Conflict”. Alder is a conflict of a regular being caught in a landslide of “this or that” which is put forward with drama to penetrate the hearts with more conviction.