[Nightmarish Detour Review] PIAFFE

In the equestrian world of cinema, where storytelling often gallops down predictable paths, PIAFFE breaks free from the reins and offers a truly unique and horspiciously bizarre experience. Directed by Ann Oren and skillfully shot by Carlos Vasquez, this film is a whimsical blend of equine fascination, erotic exploration, and audacious surrealism. With its experimental approach, PIAFFE hoofs the viewer into uncharted territory (where reality and imagination meld) creating an unforgettable cinematic canter.

At the heart of the film is Eva, played with captivating introspection by Simone Bucio, a young woman whose life revolves around observing the world through sound. She works as a foley artist and her meticulous notes and silent observations paint a picture of her unique existence, where she’s at odds with the noisy outside world. But it’s her fixation on a horse’s movement that sparks her transformation (both physically and emotionally) into an embodiment of the very creature she admires.

As Eva’s obsession with recreating equine sounds consumes her, her body undergoes an unexpected metamorphosis. Sprouting a luxuriant horse tail from her backside might seem outlandish, but within the film’s playful universe, it’s a natural progression. The film’s deliberate use of sound and silence adds another layer of intrigue. The scarce dialogue accentuates the meticulously crafted soundscapes, inviting the audience to appreciate every nuance. From the rhythmic trotting of the horse to the clicks and whirs of the zoetrope, the audio elements playfully dance around Eva’s journey of self-discovery.

In between work and sexual encounters, Eva also takes regular trips to visit her closest family member. Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau shines as Zara (Eva’s nonbinary sibling) adding a refreshing dimension to the film’s exploration of identity. Zara’s breakdown sets the stage for Eva’s new horsey obsession as we see her try to mimic the enchanting prance of a horse (the very act from which the film draws its title).

The parallels between Eva’s evolution and the dressage move of piaffe form a subtle yet powerful thread woven through the narrative. With Eva’s new identity, she embraces the horse within, and her transformation allows her to become more assertive with her body and her life. Soon, strangulation, bondage, and ponyplay take place in Eva’s sexual escapades.

Oren’s audacious direction defies cinematic norms, leaving the viewer in awe of the film’s thematic audacity. The film treads the fine line between the believable and the bewildering, all of which leads to an unpredictable climax. The juxtaposition of everyday life and extraordinary physical mutations captures the essence of the film’s surreal charm. PIAFFE doesn’t shy away from its surrealism but embraces the absurdity with a wink and a nicker. The film’s visual style, punctuated by color flares and exquisite cinematography, bathes the audience in a world that’s both strange and strangely alluring. The film’s narrative may be unconventional, but its provocations invite engagement rather than alienation, giving the audience room to ponder on the themes of transformation and self-acceptance.

In conclusion, PIAFFE is an equine-inspired journey that takes the audience on a galloping adventure through the realms of identity, transformation, and desire. The film’s unusual narrative, rich soundscapes, and vibrant visuals combine to create an experience that’s both thought-provoking and visually captivating. Bucio’s portrayal of Eva, alongside Paetau’s Zara, adds depth to the exploration of self-discovery and gender identity. Oren’s unbridled direction is a testament to the power of unconventional storytelling, inviting the audience to embrace the film’s surreal eccentricities. So, saddle up and prepare for an enchanting cinematic ride like no other – PIAFFE is here to trot into your heart with its playful, whimsical, and unabashedly horse-tastic tale.

PIAFFE opens in Los Angeles on September 15th at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre.

Nightmarish Detour

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