By CARLING KIRBY
Starring Cary Mark and Marley Frank
Directed by Matt Hartley
Global Digital Releasing
Apotheosis is, by definition, the highest point in the development of something; a culmination or climax. In the case of Matt Hartley, the culmination of his debut project is this film. Originating as a short story by Hartley and developed into a screenplay, Apotheosis centres around Darwin (Cary Mark), a middle-class office employee attempting to unravel the apparent murder of his girlfriend, Christine (Marley Frank). Opening with an eerie, atmospheric score, the film’s pacing is initially slow, giving the audience time to get to know the characters. While some audience members may feel frustrated by such a lengthy introduction, they will later realize that the first thirty minutes of the film—the time spent exploring the turbulent relationship between Darwin and Christine—is crucial to understanding the rest of it, and provides subtle clues for events that take place later on.
From their first scene together, it’s apparent that the lead actors share intense chemistry, capable of switching from charm and likability to raw human emotion at the drop of a hat. Their dynamic carries the film, along with the philosophical narration of what’s eventually revealed to be Darwin’s shadow. While the shadow’s voice-over definitely comes across slightly awkward and ham-fisted at times—much like a few of the performances in the film—the insights it provides and the questions it raises will leave viewers with something to dwell on long after the credits roll.
Minor nitpicks aside, Apotheosis leaves a generally favourable impression of newbie Hartley’s filmmaking efforts. He sets up an intriguing mystery and is unafraid to venture into the darkest corners of the human psyche—how incorrigibly damaging the traumas we face during our childhood can be, how the damage caused continues to affect us throughout our adult lives and the devastating impact it can have on those we love.