Catherine Fordham’s Consommé begins with a young woman leaving an apartment building late at night after a fight with someone. She begins walking briskly through the streets of Brooklyn. The viewer then sees this same woman slowly waking up in a brightly lit bedroom, which is what reveals that this short film will be told through a series of flashbacks.
During the woman’s flashbacks to her walk the night before, the audience hears lots of loud city noises, sirens, car horns and loud music. The viewer also experiences moments of fear and harassment alongside this woman as she gets catcalled and has a loud vehicle drive up next to her and slow down. Each of these moments, mixed together with the general noise heard in the city scenes, causes anxiety for both the woman and the film’s audience.
This anxiety builds as the viewer watches a man following the woman as she continues on her walk. Either she doesn’t sense his presence or she’s trying to ignore it. However, when the man grabs her, her fear – and the audience’s fear – is realized. He drags her into an alley and begins attacking her.
In contrast to the dark, foreboding, dangerous night flashbacks, the shots of the woman waking up are all well-lit, bright with sunshine, and full of light colors. They are quiet and peaceful. However, the woman’s face and body is wounded. She has cuts and bruises on her legs and face, reminding the viewer of the brutal night before. At this point in the film, the viewer still doesn’t know exactly how the attack will end –
Then comes the moment when the woman realizes she is going to be sexually assaulted, as he pins her up against a vehicle in the alley, the woman hears him begin to undo his belt buckle. When she realizes what is about to happen, she goes into pure survival and fight mode.
The pacing and movement of this film is finely executed, Fordham uses the technique of flashback in such a way which adds valuable suspense to the rhythm of the story as the action unfolds.
In Consommé we participate in what one may call a refreshing decision the character makes. Rather than being stereotyped as a victim, we see a woman giving her attacker a taste of her fury and strength. Overall, Fordham’s Consommé hits hard, stirring awake one’s emotions, making you walk away thinking, “That was badass.”