Souls of Totality

By Richard Raymond | Drama
A young couple in a cult prepares for the end during a solar eclipse.

A loving couple shares a quiet, isolated life together, filled with hidden wells of warmth and affection. But they face a moment of choice as a change in circumstance — and a solar eclipse — will end their life together as they know it.

Director Richard Raymond, alongside co-writers Kate Trefey and Ben Bolea, has crafted a uniquely engaging love story with remarkable visual panache and skill. Shot during a total solar eclipse in August of 2017, it evokes a powerful fulcrum moment of transformation and choice between a couple.

The film’s initial selling point may be the central performance by lead actress Tatiana Maslany, who won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2016 for her shapeshifting roles in the fan-favorite “Orphan Black.” Both she and actor Tom Cullen are superb here, making each moment and beat count in terms of building character, forwarding the narrative or evoking the humor, connection and conflict between them. With such richly specific performances, the film juxtaposes its vaguely doomsday scenario with tremendous emotional resonance, creating a powerfully poetic and engaging experience.

Aiding the performances, the film also employs astonishingly precise and rich technique and craftsmanship. Beautifully sweeping wide camera shots and movements and luminous cinematography all work together to detail a world that is isolated yet warmed by the richness of the relationship within it. With its clear yet saturated tones and burnished highlights and shadows, the film’s visual beauty makes it clear why it’s so difficult for some to leave it, even when promised enlightenment or ultimate peace on the other side. As the film’s haunting premise unfurls — and the couple’s situation is revealed more fully — its unique syntax and atmospherics work together to add to its uncertainty, eerieness and tension.

Ultimately “Souls of Totality” is a love story and a relationship drama that examines the role of a romantic connection and human love in the journey of spiritual growth. The genre often demands an arc and a story that challenges the central couple towards further closeness or intimacy, or a break away from one another. But when the moment of decision arrives — aided by the totality of the solar eclipse — the result is nothing less than achingly magical and soul-affirming.




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