Published Aug 26, 2020Grace Glowicki's directorial debut, Tito, is a strange little experimental film that garnered much acclaim in 2019 at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and for good reason. Meeting intriguingly at the intersection of buddy comedy and post-apocalyptic survival flick, Tito is a triumph not just on a technical level, but also — and especially — in its deeply visual depiction of the oscillating way in which friendship saves and destroys.
Written by, directed by and starring Glowicki, the film follows Tito as he hides out inside his home in the middle of suburbia, fearful of an unseen predator. It's difficult for him to get groceries and his stomach is always growling. His nights are marked by vigilant half-sleep and nightmares, until his overly cheerful neighbour John (Ben Petrie) notices him and decides to become his friend. What follows is a fraught, weed-infused, toxic friendship that sees Tito open up to the world — but at what cost, the film asks.
Glowicki's magnificence as Tito lies in her physicality. Because he says very few words, Tito exists in his body's reactions to his mind and his surroundings. Beginning the film hunched and afraid, Glowicki is able to contort her face and body in such a way as to mark Tito physically as a terrified loner. His movements are always apprehensive, he's pre-emptively cowed, prepared for attack at every moment. But through friendship with John, Tito becomes looser in his movements; he dances, sleeps well and is thankful for the days, where before he merely survived. Petrie is amazing as the friendly neighbour, incessantly talking and preparing food, giving and not expecting too much back from Tito — until, that is, he does.
The original score by Casey MQ brilliantly punctuates the film, bolstering its narrative at every dramatic turn in a way that makes the sound a secondary character. It's beautiful to look at, too, with cinematography by Christopher Lew that provides an atmosphere that changes with the tension in the film, beginning shrouded in shadows but becoming sunny and colourful with John's entrance. As John becomes too comfortable in his friendliness, the shadows come back, along with a certain murkiness.
Tito is an incredibly interesting gem of a film that certainly earns its acclaim. It shows us the ways in which friendships can save us from our fears, but also their muddy extremes, which look much the same as the dusty emptiness of loneliness. It will stay in your mind long after you've seen it. (levelFILM)