An emotional, narratively-daring film.

There’s a phenomenon, and the name of it is eluding me, but basically it’s when something is especially on your mind – like, say, getting pregnant, or buying a Mini Cooper – so it feels like you’re seeing representations of it – pregnant women and Mini Coopers – all over the place. Really, though, there are no more pregnant women or Mini Coopers than there were before, you’re just mentally primed to notice them because of your preoccupation.

That’s a rough emotional description of the essence behind Asphalt, a somber and nuanced short film from Süleyman Demirel that premiered over at ShortoftheWeek.com. Dig the synopsis:

“Abraham and his pregnant wife Sarah are going to a hospital with a suspicion of miscarriage. They are sitting in the back seat of a taxi. The places the car passes by reflect the inner worlds of the couple, in a way these things the car passes by turn into their inner worlds: While they are going towards the hospital, the birth part of the birth-death cycle is seen outside. While they are coming back, the death part of the same cycle is seen.”

Aiding this circle-of-life narrative is the palindromic structure Demirel has applied to his film, each shot with its mirror in the film’s back half, resulting in a film that builds to climax at its center then spends as much time on the resolution as it does the build-up. This is especially effective given the film’s content and its depiction of the opposing forces of life and death.

This isn’t an emotionally-light film, nor is it a particularly easy one, but those are strengths, and in the end Asphalt is a powerful meditation on the pains of living, the agony of loss, and the inherent rebirth in every death.