The Fourth Kitchen – Leo Merkel (Germany)

Short Film Competition                     

Name: Desislava Lyapova 

Nationality: Bulgaria

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Empty table, two chairs, grey room. We hear a woman speaking, yet we do not see her before she announces her decision to break up with her partner. And we are forced to stay with them in these tragic - or rather, senseless - few minutes before they part. It feels claustrophobic. He does not say a thing. She gets more confident with every word. He stays, not trying to change her mind. She goes on explaining herself until she tells him to leave.

There is nothing grand in separation. No tears, no regrets, no trying to turn back time or change the direction your relationship has taken. Just resignation. Did they merely not understand each other? Whatever the cause, once there, it does not matter.

Stylistically, it would be enough to describe the film with perseverant stillness – there is only one camera movement, our gaze is mainly directed towards a table placed between two walls. It looks as gloomy as the reality of the couple’s relationship. We are not in the position of taking sides or judging either of them because not much of their previous story is revealed, not even their names. Just He and She, who from now on will no longer be We. There is no music, and the dialogue sounds basic and ordinary.  

This is not a melodrama. It is not even dramatic in the simplest sense. Instead the director Leo Merkel presents us with a different perspective on the nature of relationships, and even manages to make us laugh in the end.

We are left craving for something more, as the film ends in the same way the pair’s love does – prematurely and without an explanation. An advertisement in the final credits draws our attention to the fact that The Fourth Kitchen is part of Merkel’s project 6 ½ Kitchens. There is more for us to follow and, personally, I am curious to see what is hiding in the other rooms.