Written and directed by Penelope Lawson Numb follows Astrid (Rebecca Martos) as she attempts to cope with the recent death of her boyfriend. As the title implies, Astrid is numb with grief and while she drinks, she also has sex with a few strangers in order to feel something.
Astrid is clearly attempting to drown her sorrows, she appears to be intoxicated throughout the film, and yet she reaches out in the most basic manner possible. Sexual encounter that require little to no talking. It is communication at its earthy and automatic best.
Each of the sexual flings Astrid has are of an autonomous nature. Sex with her AA buddy is cut short when her visitor knocks on the door,. Before the interruption the act is per-functionary at best with Astrid concentrating on the sex.
In many ways Astrid is strongly reminiscent of Courtney Love. Whether this resemblance is on purpose or accidental, the blond woman with the dark roots is in a bad place. She clearly wants to feel something other than the hole left in her life.
Astrid cuts out everyone connected to her dead boyfriend and focuses instead bypassing her own misery. She chooses to do this with outsiders.
The film does not allow us into Astrid’s mind. We only see her short journey into nearly anonymous sex and apparently drinking to lower her inhibitions.
Martos does a brilliant job of portraying a woman who is lost in herself and trying to find something to fill that void. At the end of the film we have no idea if the character is going to follow her boyfriend over the edge of that building or not.
All we know for certain is that the young woman is no closer to finding a way to cope. What is clear from everything going on around her, is that it will be up to Astrid to cope.
If she can.
Lawson does a fine job with her third short film. She allows the storyline to dangle with an unsatisfactory ending to mirror what her protagonist is going through. Astrid is as uncertain of her future as we are.
Matthew Mendelson is the cinematographer and also edits the film doing a splendid job on both. The sound on the film is harsh and often feels too loud. A move that is intended, no doubt, to emphasize Astrid’s state of mind.
The film could have been extended for a few more minutes just to broaden the scope of the character and her relationship with the brunette who offers her some non sexual comfort. This neighbor or friend tries to reach Astrid with little success.
Even without the extra time the film delivers. It is short, punchy and powerful. It takes a close look at how different people handle the fact of death and the misery connected to it.
Numb is a 3.5 star film. One word of advice; watch it a few times as more nuances appear with repeated viewing. There is some female nudity, very little, and the language is a tad coarse and sexual in nature.