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RiverRun Film Festival review: 'Black Conflux' leaves viewer's eyes and ears always captivated

RiverRun Film Festival review: 'Black Conflux' leaves viewer's eyes and ears always captivated

"Black Conflux"

Ella Ballentine in a scene from “Black Conflux.”

“Black Conflux” will lead you to believe — for the majority of its runtime — that our two main characters will come together in some sort of cataclysmic event that will forever alter their lives.

Apart from a sparse dose of uplifting musical moments, the preponderance of the film’s plot is filled unfortunately with empty tension. In entering the film, I might have expected a tense, heart-pounding thriller by the way these characters seemed destined to make all of the wrong choices. Instead, the filmmakers try to throw up vacant characterization in the hopes of some foreseeable change in the protagonist(s).

But when it is supremely vague where said characters begin emotionally, it is hard to dig through the pretentious air of ambiguity for some semblance of growth; instead, we are left with incomplete relationships, as we yearn for this brewing connection that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

If there is praise to throw writer/director Nicole Dorsey’s way, it is her sense of restraint through which she helmed the film. The imagery at work here is consistently engaging, following our characters through their own crises with intimate movement and moments of welcome joy, whether it be wholesome or perverse. The camera can go from a continuous take of one character’s liberation through dance, and then quickly cut to sharp close-ups of fizzy beverages and chopping vegetables, leaving the audience on their toes.

And even if the expectations the tone sets through said tools lead to a path fraught with nothing but loose ends, the viewer’s eyes and ears are always captivated to some puzzling degree.

All of this to say, I encourage you to find your own interpretation of “Black Conflux,” as this reviewer could really use some help.

Aidan Healy is a student at UNC School of the Arts.

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