Balcony (Self-Loathing Identity Collapse)


Phew, this one is a killer. Man… Balcony is one of those films that doesn’t tell you much about its real meaning until the ending. You think you got it all worked out. You’re sure of it. This is a touching glimmer of hope in all the human garbage, you think, and then it not only slaps you in the face, but it makes sure its palm is coated in broken glass and it drags it along the cheek, leaving scars you never forget. You look in the mirror and say “oh yeah, that…” and then promptly run screaming into the world calling “don’t you all see what you are?!”


Directed by Toby Fell-Holden and the winner of numerous awards I need not list, Balcony is a brutal drama concerning racial and sexual identity as well as the lack of acceptance humanity has been plagued with since it could think. You expect a moment of heroism, but herein is only truth, you fools. The primary character is Tina, whose life with her mother and mother’s boyfriend is one of isolation and abuse. In her local community she finds herself falling for an Afghani girl who lives in a flat high above and whom the viewer is first introduced to near the beginning as she comes out to hang clothes on her balcony (a shot of this moment is above).


Anyone watching is going to feel for the girl, named Dana, as she is ridiculed by local boys and hidden away by her father, leaving Tina the primary means through which we can vicariously experience the goodness we think we are capable of expressing. Through Tina we learn of Dana’s trials. Local boys taunt her as Tina watches on, commenting that they’d want to “fuck her” regardless of their comments. Tina is entranced by the girl and she slowly builds a friendship with her that blooms into sexual attraction that soon needs consummation. As the director himself noted, Tina at first seems the perfect protector, making you identify with her feelings for Dana. It sets up the perfect fall for your soul off of its height of virtue signaling.


This time I’m not going to ruin it, suffice to say Tina’s thoughts on Dana’s life and what she thinks is reality are merely a construction of her own broken mind. Balcony deals with some of the worst injustices of humanity, in particular those of the individual and institutions perpetuated by our lack of action at the right time. The world in which Tina and Dana live is filled with suspicion and rumor, unfounded and unreliable. As a narrator Tina is set up as a hero specifically because she is an absolute failure, with the final moments destroying any hope we might have that this creature, the human being, can ever find its way. It is far too selfish to see outside of itself. If you don’t want to jump out of a window after watching Fell-Holden’s genius development in this regard, you’re just as bad as all of them, if not worse. God I hate myself.


Toby Fell-Holden Official Vimeo

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

Balcony (2019)
Toby Fell-Holden (director)
5 / 5

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