Boy, this was quite an experience... Written and directed by Andrew de Burgh, The Bestowal is a 90 minute drama that tells the tale of a businessman who is on the brink of suicide, but is then visited by an inter-dimensional being who appears in the form of a beautiful woman and proclaims herself to be “Death”. What follows is a feature-length morality debate about life and death, good and evil, and the forces of the universe and religion coming together as one.
Having done a number of short films in the past, de Burgh describes this film as being "a dialogue heavy film that explores the meaning of life", as well as other themes including "God, parallel dimensions, time, age, the universe, the devil, human existence and love". This film tackles those themes in huge detail, providing arguments along the way about how technology is ruining the Earth, how sin corrupts humanity, and so forth, and while that can lead to some very insightful storytelling, this film has a tendency to play out like a 90-minute philosophy lecture. For this reviewer, it was a real struggle to become fully engaged and encapsulated by it on an emotional level, and it's highly likely that not everyone will be on board with this type of storytelling and filmmaking, probably going so far as to be frustrated by it.
However, there is something that is peculiarly fascinating and unique about it that suggests that in years to come, possibly when de Burgh has become more experienced with his filmmaking, this film will no doubt be looked back upon more fondly. Filmmakers like Gregg Araki are a great example in this case since he started out making movies that were frankly cold and alienating, but as time went on and he became more experienced by making remarkable gems like Smiley Face, Kaboom and White Bird In A Blizzard, the more everyone felt compelled to go back and examine his earlier works and look upon them with more of a positive mindset after seeing the roots of his road to success.
In the end, The Bestowal is an odd, peculiar beast that is unique, challenging and thought-provoking, yet frustrating, unengaging and, from this writer's mindset, impossible to become emotionally attached to. But even with its problems, there is the spark of something that is quite special that makes the film an admirable attempt, even if it doesn't completely come together in the end.
THE BESTOWAL / DIRECTOR: ANDREW DE BURGH / SCREENPLAY: ANDREW DE BURGH / STARRING: SAM BRITTAN, SHARMITA BHATTACHARYA / CERT: TBC / RELEASE DATE: TBC