Amnesiac is a Mind-Bending Möbius Strip

Short of the Day

A film about memory, truth, and where the two meet.

If David Lynch had conceived Christopher Nolan’s Memento as a short, it might have felt something like V.R. Rao’s Amnesiac, a film about memory and its faults told with a narrative like a Möbius strip and a slew of technical effects that heighten the paranoia.

A man wakes in a field with no memory of how he got there – or rather, no coherent memory, only flashes of information that don’t add up to anything sensible. He winds up at a roadside diner where a patron may or may not be familiar to him in a sinister way. This is the story of Amnesiac, but not the way it’s told. Rao, who wrote and directed, has spliced his story into an abstract timeline that is simultaneously in the past and the present, and possibly reality and fantasy as well. The narration here is delightfully unreliable, mirroring the protagonist’s memory, and add to this disjointed storytelling a black-and-white color scheme that begins to pop with and eventually transition into color – a sign that memory is becoming knowledge? – as well as a soundscape that shifts with each perspective and the result is a short film you can’t trust, but can’t look away from, either.

Starring David Thornton, Julia Valen, and Matti Leinikka and clocking in at just over seven minutes, Amnesiac is a trippy short that asks more questions than it answers, which is exactly what makes it so fiendishly fascinating.