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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.11.15] drama

How far would you go for your art? In the case of Malorie Gilman, the character at the centre of Her Composition: to the brink of madness.

Malorie is a music student nearing the end of her degree when she begins to struggle. It begins with doubt the loss of her voice in a composition she is writing for a well respected quartet, she's lost her PhD scholarship (lost because she refused the advances of her professor), her rent has gone up and cherry on the ice cream: her boyfriend has dumped her. Malorie is desperate, alone and ready to take a leap to get her life back in order.

Determined to get past this rough patch, she is tempted into the world prostitution. She meets an artist and former escort who shares her list of former clients who, as she put it, "kept me interested." After a bit of second guessing, Malorie makes the phone call that will changes her life.

Her Composition is reminiscent of François Ozon's Young & Beautiful in that both movies feature two young women who are on missions of self discovery. The difference is that Ozon allows his lead to make the decision on her own without external pressures while writer/director Stephan Littger makes things a little more complicated for himself by writing a lead who seems trapped and forced into this lifestyle choice. The fact that he manages to circumvent that issue to create a dark and stirring portrait of an artist putting everything on the line for her art is admirable.

Over a short period of time, we see Malorie grow from a naïve young woman to a tortured artist who is channelling every piece of life experience into her art. From the subway ride to her client's home to the random wanderings through the park, she's converting all of those inputs into her composition. But there's little in the way of self discovery. Malorie doesn't stop to consider how the experiences are changing her instead, she's completely consumed. Consumed by the need to earn the money she needs, the experiences she needs to fuel her music and the sex which itself becomes a sort of addiction. The deeper she falls down the rabbit hole, the less she seems in tune with the world around her and even herself.

For the most part, the supporting cast in Her Composition leaves much to be desired, they're a bombastic and largely forgettable group ,which only further highlights Joslyn Jensen's wonderful performance as Malorie. She provides a deeply nuanced performance that subtly captures the physical and emotional changes of the character, a character that is put her through the ringer and hits some dark moments.

I still have some concerns about the motivation for Malorie's initiation into the world of escorts but that part of the story is only a small fraction of her journey and it seems Malorie keeps returning to it not only out of financial necessity but also out of an emotional need.

I appreciate that Her Composition is layered and complicated and not easy to love. The fact that this is a debut feature is even more impressive.

Recommended Release: Young & Beautiful

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liz b. (6 years ago) Reply

i was in the same screening. loved everything about the movie and stayed on for littger's q&a. he seems wise beyond his years.

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