Confined, precise and well staged, The Shattering marks the first feature film from writer-director Daria Nazarova. With just three cast members and one location, this psychological thriller manages to feel much broader in scope than it actually is. This is partly due to its flashback structure and also how Nazarova uses characterisation to create a sense of change. At the centre of the film is Murisa Harba’s bold performance. Harba carries the film on her shoulders, managing to cross a spectrum of emotions throughout the film – all of which feel very real.
The Shattering is a film which works on its reveals, and it will play best if you don’t know too much going in. Harba is Clare, a wife and mother who is attempting to get back on her feet following a tragedy. Her husband, Eric (Timothy Ryan Cole) works long hours and he tries to help Clare by hiring Charlotte Beckett’s Monica, a psychiatrist who makes regular house visits. Clare’s fragile state means that she’s attempting to process the past and the present as she attempts to put her life in order – but paranoia, jealousy and self doubt make this a complicated process.
Good films need good writing and Daria Nazarova’s The Shattering has a very well-honed script. The words sound real and the situations never feel far-fetched. Yes, the film is constructed as a thriller but the genre only resonates if you believe the characters and the world in which you find them. Nazarova’s is working with a low budget, but the filmmaker knows how to get the most out of her modest means. It’s as much about holding back as it is about showing spectacle.
At times low budget films are often let down by their performances, but leading actor Murisa Harba is wonderful in the role of the Clare. It’s a performance which holds the film together. She’s colouring her character with multiple shades and she keeps every aspect between the lines. If Harba had failed, the film would also have floundered. Timothy Ryan Cole also impresses as Eric. The husband in this type of film is often very one-dimensional, but Cole manages to make the character fully rounded. His chemistry with Harba connects and you truly believe their more intimate moments.
A very strong debut from Daria Nazarova, The Shattering is a small psychological thriller which delivers within the confines of its genre, however it’s also a film which works incredibly well as a character piece. It’s a good calling card for Nazarova’s talents as a writer and director – and I’m very curious to see what she does next as a filmmaker.
The Shattering is available now on Amazon.