Irish supernatural short Radha is a meditative piece dealing with grief, the search for identity, and the power of transformation through art. Its horror is not graphic or intense; rather, it comes off as a quiet eeriness that pervades the film, offering a chance of hope along with its sense of dread.
Saoirse (Sue Walsh) is a young woman trying to put some troubling incidents behind her as she moves to a new city, using a new name. The past isn’t so easy to escape, she finds, as someone she knows recognizes her at a party and tries to confront her. Saoirse wanders the town a bit, stumbling across a club with a decidedly unusual looking clientele. The audience watches a dancer (Kojii Helnwein as the titular character) in one of the film’s centerpieces, a tightly edited performance piece set to a hypnotic rhythm.
Saoirse is mesmerized by Radha, though the dancer’s audience members put her off. Radha is a mysterious, alluring presence who invites Saoirse to go to bed with her after some awkward conversation. I will leave the rest of the night’s surprises to viewers to discover for themselves.
Writer/director Nicolas Courdouan has crafted an enigmatic but wholly accessible short that offers up unease and a sense of otherworldliness. He slowly unlocks the secrets of Saoirse’s past while not giving away too much about Radha, and that works well on both counts.
Sue Walsh gives an impactful turn as Saoirse, inhabiting her character with a sense that something is bubbling just under the surface that she refuses to let out. Kojii Helnwein is marvelous as Radha; she gives off a pitch-perfect air of the preternatural and inscrutable, with an underlying sense of menace. Helnwein brings to Radha a commanding presence, making the character as equally captivating in the unconventional dance scene as she is merely sitting and talking. Tess Masero Brioso’s cinematography is splendid, and Colin McKenna’s score works wonderfully with Simon Murphy’s sound design, as the sounds of nature gives way to driving beats and spooky music before returning again.
Radha is currently on the film festival circuit and has been picking up awards along the way. Nicolas Courdouan’s eerie, thought-provoking short is one to watch for when it heads your way.
Radha: (3.5 / 5)