Writer–director Nakkiah Lui’s Brown Lips is a wonderful little short charged with teenage sexuality, rebellion, and taboo. As Kiera prepares for her debutante ball by ballroom dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker with her cousin Des.
Their attraction to each other is palpable, communicated through brilliant bits of imagery, shot selection, and editing. The camera conveys a closeness to Des and Kiera’s relationship by reducing the space around them, zooming in on their faces during conversations or when they are dancing.
There are some really weird and funny bits, too. Kiera starts a voice-over and then gets interrupted when her on-screen persona is awakened from a dream, and there’s something of an homage to Barry Lyndon (but maybe that’s just me).
The editing is also great. A fantasy sequence while Kiera takes a bath suggests that she is positively drowning in her passion for Des. And, when the two decide to run away together, there is a gorgeous shot of a sunset, staged to portray how the lovers are fighting against a big world.
Brown Lips is an incredibly pretty film, with obvious expertise at the helm. This is a film that is confident enough to get lost in those lovely details that draw us to each other and make another person positively irresistible.
Screens (as part of Love Stories Shorts Programme):
Saturday, October 21, 5:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Ticket information can be found at the imagineNATIVE website.