Loss depicts the reel world

It's a sad fact that most good relationships go bad; people change, you change, but what happens after the end? The Loss of Life peeks into the life of Uri (played by 2005 College graduate Alexis Ohanian), recently dumped, and the path he chooses post-breakup. But it's more complicated than that. In case the title didn't give it away, this movie is not for the faint of heart. The Loss of Life explores the darker side of a broken heart and the decay of a fallen relationship.

The featurette begins with the death of Uri's relationship, which leads him on a quest to change who he is and find closure. Through the use of flashbacks, the film relates the dynamic between Uri and Sheila (played by third-year College student Jen Lilley) while they were together.

Director Han West, a third-year College student, artfully uses brighter colors for the flashbacks and darker hues for the present to create a stark contrast of a happy relationship gone terribly wrong.

West said he took an "emotional approach" when working with the color scheme -- the colors were picked "intuitively" to set the tone of each scene. The film ends up being quite dark, a fact helped along by some very ominous music in melodic minor.

On the other hand, Uri and Sheila's early relationship is characterized by flowers and sunshine. In the opening scene, the camera pans across the sun blazing over mountains and alights on the two lovers, one of whom is clearly not as happy as the other. This scene is by far the brightest of the entire movie.

From there, it's a straight path into the darkness of Uri's heart, when we are introduced to two shady characters: Mr. Silbi and Solomon. Mr. Silbi seems to represent Uri's inner voice, which urges Uri to forget Sheila entirely. Solomon acts as Uri's embittered counselor and is the catalyst for the film's darkness.

To articulate the main theme, West used the book of Genesis as an allegory.

"The fall of Genesis is very similar to the fall in a relationship," West said. "Once a certain line is crossed you can never turn back."

There are biblical allusions smattered throughout; West said the film should be seen more than once to catch them all. Perhaps the most significant allusion is Solomon, who seems more serpentine than kingly. His involvement is central to the film's climax -- a scene that's sure to rattle the audience.

The Loss of Life is being heralded as the most ambitious student film produced in the history of the FilmMaker's Society (FMS) at U.Va. The idea for the film goes back to January 2004, and work began in June of that year. According to third-year College student Steve Robillard, who worked on technical aspects of the film, The Loss of Life is the "next step up" for the FMS.

All in all, 30 students worked on the film. West, producer Gretel Truong, Union production manager Leslie Buker and Robillard, agreed The Loss of Life was an educational project. Many of the crew signed on knowing very little about filmmaking and worked 14-hour days during the semester to complete the film.

What is most surprising about the film isn't its abstract nature or some of the shocking scenes, but its length. At 23 minutes at press screening, the film isn't expected to be more than 25-minutes long with final edits. Despite its brevity, The Loss of Life should be a hit with those who love student films and even with those who don't. Uri's character is someone we can all relate to, someone we've all been or will be, someone who's just a little bit lost.

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