Skeletons in the Closet is a 2007 short film directed by Ulrik Friberg. The film was a 2008 Tribeca Film Festival Selection. The Film was originally titled SKELETT|GARDEROBEN. The description of the film reads, “A woman and a man wake up on the floor in a musty flat, remembering nothing of who they are or why they are there.”
That information alone, combined with the title essentially told of the short’s entire plot. More so than any other film I’ve seen this semester, the title excellently describes the content of this narrative. This could be in part due to the ‘already-been-done’ idea that comes to mind. However, Friberg puts a unique angle on a common plot. When people awake with total amnesia in a film, they rarely like what they eventually learn. He takes this concept and turns it on its head, leaving behind the message: “People don’t change.”
As the couple begins to remember who they are and what they do, the dynamic of the situation begins to rapidly change. First curious, almost like a honeymoon phase. The woman learns what she does before she even knows who she is. With paper proof of her misdeeds and no recollection of ever committing the crimes, she embraces the identity that is familiar.
The curious phase ends suddenly. Moments after they ask ‘were we a couple?’ the suspense in cranked up with a hostage situation. Then, in another instant, the mood changes again; this time, happiness. The two realize who they are
The film concludes with the two discovering what happened. In an ultimate nod to the film’s message, the juice they drink early in the film is contaminated with pills that cause amnesia. The two drop to the floor where the story began, forced to repeat their discoveries over and over again. One simple change ends their loop; don’t drink the juice. This could also be seen as a type of prison; two criminals paying for their previous misdeeds.
This film may hope to do a bit too much in not enough time. I felt that the constant mood changes took away from the film, almost disallowing any connection to the characters on the screen.
I also feel that understanding the native language of the film would add to the quality as well. With the film shot in one room with only three actors, dialogue is much more important. With that comes the need to hear the inflections in voice and common nuances to the language. It isn’t the fault of the film, but subtitles take more away from this film than most others.
All in all, I enjoyed the film. It had a clear message, and despite the mood changes it was very thought provoking. The plot could have used more time to develop.