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SIMILAR STRANDS OF HAIR

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This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Simon Spitzer

grade: 6

In approximately fifteen minutes, Similar Strands of Hair shows a juxtaposition between the narratives of a common past and the proximity, for now only physical, of the present. At the Vienna Shorts 2024.

Remembering the past

A new reunion, after years. A new reunion, but moving the point where everything had stopped a little further, because nothing is as it was before and never can be again. Similar Strands of Hair, by director Simon Spitzer, in competition at the Vienna Shorts 2024, from May 28 to June 2 in Vienna, tells the story of two young women who meet again, close in the past and quite far apart in the present, with the bitter awareness that the unresolved is a difficult burden to carry, even for the strong and trained shoulders of the experienced dancers, protagonists of the short film.

The meeting which triggers Similar Strands of Hair is that of Marlene and Maria, who see each other for the first time after five years, following the former’s hasty departure for the Netherlands. The atmosphere is totally embarrassing on both sides and the Schnapps placed in the middle of the table does not have the soothing function expected. It is quite evident from the outset, in fact, that there is something unresolved between the two, hinting at an old intimacy and complicity that has now vanished. In a clumsy but nevertheless noble attempt at reconciliation, Spitzer hints to the viewer that Marlene and Maria are probably linked by a love affair gone wrong, alluding to it more with mimicry and proxemics than with words.

High pressure, an atmosphere difficult to bear, Similar Strands of Hair is all about taking one step forward and two steps back amidst more or less interesting anecdotes – actually used to avoid the awkward silence that often comes to the fore – and voids filled only with disappointment and regret. There is resentment, there is anger, there is also the shame of those who have had a chance to rethink what has been and what, inevitably, will never be again. After all, these are the consequences of running away without a proper goodbye. And coming to terms with it becomes the hardest thing in the world, because one is powerless and there is nothing one can do but accept the flow forward – and especially in another direction – of another’s life.

Marlene organises the meeting, invites Maria home, proposes a walk in the park and painting with watercolours, asks questions, does her best, in short, to make up for something lost. Maria, for her part, seems to be to all intents and purposes the injured party, remaining reserved albeit present. And indeed, in the end – no spoilers – it will become clear why. Still holding them together, beyond memories, are those similar strands of hair that give the film its title, which, according to Carolin Weidner, symbolise an old bond. And, I might add, they metaphorically certify all that remains: a light and inconspicuous reflection among the dark colours of the soul.

In about fifteen minutes, Similar Strands of Hair shows a juxtaposition between the tales – also banal and frankly uninteresting – of a common past and the proximity, for now only physical, of the present. The hope is to reconnect, to bridge the emotional gap that separates them, hoping that the 10th Viennese district can now be the scene of a reunion torn apart by regrets and classic loose ends. Both, however, seem unconvinced. As am I, after having watched Simon Spitzer’s short film, a good, unexciting little task.

Original title: Similar Strands of Hair
Directed by: Simon Spitzer
Country/year: Austria / 2024
Running time: 16’
Genre: drama
Cast: Marlene Prinz, Maria Hernández González
Screenplay: Simon Spitzer
Cinematography: Simon Spitzer
Produced by: Simon Spitzer

Info: the page of Similar Strands of Hair on the website of the Vienna Shorts; the page of Similar Strands of Hair on the website of the Diagonale