By: Amanda Guarragi
The Van directed by Erenik Beqiri shows the resilience of a young man who needs to pay his wait out of Albania. He already works during the day with his father but it isn’t enough to survive. What we see is two different perceptions of how to survive. Ben (Phénix Brossard) finds side hustles in order to survive, whereas his father (Arben Bajraktaraj) believes in hard work. The generational divide is ultimately put to the test, when Ben joins a fighting ring, in order to earn some extra cash. The family drama highlights the lengths people will go to for their family.
The film is beautifully shot and the aspect ratio benefits the story, as we fully see the Ben’s physique in the frame. Each time Ben exits the van, his wounds get worse. The close ups are completely necessary in showing his pain and his emotions while processing his next move. The lighting choices were also effective because of the contrast of warmth and steely tones in certain scenes. The yellowish tones were used when Ben was safe at home with his father, whereas the steely blues were used near the van. The technical aspects of this film worked extremely well and made and elevated the story.
The Van is a short film that shows the journey of a father and son, trying to make their way out of a life that seems impossible to advance in. Ben is pushed to his limits and doesn’t quite know when, or even how, to stop these actions. Once he sees the money payoff, it is hard to leave the toxic environment. It is a brutal story of making a living and Ben does teach his father about how to function in this new era of society. The only way to survive is to cut corners, even if there are difficult tasks being handed to you.