Film Review: Disfluency

While the term post-traumatic stress disorder might have first been officially used in the late 1970s for the diagnosis of Vietnam War veterans, the concept of an extreme stress reaction predates it by a couple of decades. Of course, the actual symptoms of PTSD were nothing new, though the condition has been known by a variety of names over the centuries. There’s no doubting its connection with warfare, but also any form of severe interpersonal violence. One young woman struggles to process what happened to her in Disfluency.

Jane (Libe Barer), the prodigal daughter, returns suddenly to her parents’ lake house after unexpectedly flunking her final college class. Her mother (Diana DeLaCruz) is beside herself that her youngest has ruined her prospects, although her father (Ricky Wayne) is a little more upbeat. She returns to her hometown and finds consolation in her older sister (Ariela Barer), high school friends and crush (Dylan Arnold) for the long hot summer. Trying to process what has happened to her.

On the face of it, the premise of Disfluency might not sound particularly original, but the way the drama unravels in writer/director Anna Baumgarten’s debut feature is brilliantly done. This is largely thanks to some great writing and a wonderful central performance from Libe Barer. The use of language, especially speech disfluency, as a way of conveying how Jane is feeling works exceedingly well. While the luscious cinematography captures the hazy days of youth. All helping to make Disfluency a hugely empathetic, emotive and rewarding experience.

Disfluency is current screening on the festival circuit.

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