Music Videos Reviews

Asunder (2022) – 4 stars

Director: Kevin Kessels

Running time: 5mins

It has been a rough start to life for this section of the platform. Most of the music videos we have covered so far have been underwhelming – to put it politely.

Fortunately, just as I was starting to question the wisdom of reviewing this particular genre at all, Kevin Kessels’ recent effort Asunder turned up. By no means is it a particularly ground-breaking or ambitious work – but this jaunty, stylised effort was just the palate cleanser required to take away the bad taste Lovers Remix had left me with.

The cinematography is bright, sharp and deliberate – making the most of the passionate reds and dark brooding greens, adorning the apartment where our protagonist lives. Luca Turenhout – credited as The Woman – is preparing for a date. Having made herself up for the event, however, a silent phone call interrupts, informing her of a last-minute cancellation.

As we spend more time in the apartment, we are given more insight into her state of being. Tape is crudely stuck over the kitchen window, a clumsy makeshift repair speaking of someone still getting to grips with living alone. Meanwhile, her bedroom is blanketed in assorted stuffed animals, further flagging up the possibility that until now she has been a little insulated from the rough realities of everyday life. All the while, however, Kristian Dekker’s cinematography makes the most of these details – emphasising the shadows cast by them to suggest an encroaching darkness gradually stealing into The Woman’s life, surrounding her, looming over her.

As she continues to obsess over her latest rejection, this darkness gradually seems to resonate with The Woman, and a number of visual cues suggest that whenever her hesitant Romeo does show up, it won’t end the way he expects. A number of cutesy visual gags stand in for the grislier reality – but the final moments do indeed show a woman more ready to deal with any man who might toy with her heart. And as the music comes to an end, she picks up the phone, smiling – presumably at another suitor proposing they meet up – aware that this time she will be ready, should there be any games.

It is odd that I should mention the music so late in this review of a music video, but that is probably telling. Kessels – under the name Memory Vault – provides an electronic score that is probably the least interesting part of his film. Its beats somewhat sync to the action, and give us some nicely timed percussion during certain moments of the story, but overall, it is a little forgettable as a piece of music. It might work well as something nondescript to keep rhythm with while dancing in a club, or be decent wallpaper for fading out of consciousness after a night out, but the visual splendour on display here deserves something richer to compliment it.

At the same time, there are aspects of the visuals which take us out of the fantasy somewhat. For example, at one point The Woman casts a lovelorn look out of the kitchen window to observe two dancers in the very real Dutch street below. It is an unwelcome encroachment from what seems to be another film all together – naturally lit, with two dancers in timid red costumes, on grey asphalt. This image – which is supposed to be speaking to The Woman’s fantastical notions of grand romance – should not be rooted in such a bland reality. Especially when the ‘reality’ the film is actually priming us for is in itself stylised – one of darkness and violence – rather than the actuality of our generally mundane lives.

With that being said, it is not a major fault in the grand scheme of things. The music might not be getting on any of my playlists any time soon, and there might be one or two seconds where the visual language of the film is undermined – but it is all forgivable. Because at the end of the day, it still works as a means to showcase the art of a collective of filmmakers and musicians, in a way that means people will want to experience more from them after. That is the point of a music video in the end.

I am sure there are tunes that Kessels will give audiences which are more memorable. And whenever that is, this video is an assurance that he will be able to supply the tracks with a clever and enjoyable visual interpretation that will complement them perfectly.

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