Freckles, a new short film by Denise Papas Meechan, holds a mirror up to society and illuminates the raging struggles forced upon young women today.
Freckles is a short psychological drama that follows protagonist Lizzie (Jenn Halweil) who suffers from intense body dysmorphia; most notably her dislike for her freckles. It is a powerful statement on how western culture places so much of a woman’s self worth on her looks as opposed to personality and achievements.
To quote Lizzie “my mom says my freckles are kisses from God… but they’re just a place where my demons hide”. This immediately gives the audience an insight into Lizzie’s psychological state, as in the opening sequence, we watch her attempt to vigorously scrub off her freckles whilst showering. The irony between Lizzie’s real life looks and her belief of how the world see’s her, shows us the severe desperation this young woman suffers through.
It’s a challenge nowadays to be young woman and not be affected by the growing standards society places on “beauty”. With the rise of social media being directly linked to the rise of increasing new psychological disorders within young adults (such as orthorexia; the Instagram blamed condition where the patient becomes obsessed with eating “healthy” foods), it’s no wonder young women are suffocating under the pressure.
These feelings of both anxiety and chronic loneliness are heightened in Freckles by Lizzie’s larger than life co-worker, Margo (played by Jane Dashow). Margo, who probes and belittles Lizzie whilst describing in enthusiastic detail her sexual exploitations of the night before. I found this to be a clever representation of the distorted and contradictory standards society places on women’s sex lives.
The direction, by Denise Papas Meechan, illustrates perfectly the introspection and never ceasing self-examination of our protagonist. You’re kept at slight arms length (respecting Lizzie’s feelings of isolation), yet never too far to lose your ability to feel empathy. There is not a shot misplaced as Meechan refuses to shy away from showing Lizzie’s most personal moments of suffering and depression, and yet at the same time, she allows you to feel invited. This is credit to her strong narrative skills as both a director and a writer.
I found Freckles to be an emotionally charged and engaging short. It is a must see for audiences as a powerful reflection of our obscene standards, and for filmmakers as a powerful example of a well executed narrative.