About a minute into Julia Pott’s Belly, there’s a moment where Oscar, the main character, dismounts his friend/steed/monster by pushing through him, splitting him in two. It’s a moment that has stuck with me since I first saw the film, not just because it’s so visually shocking–although it definitely is that, especially when you don’t know the rules of the film’s world yet. It’s the intimacy of the moment, and how much it says about their friendship. Despite the violence of the image, it comes across almost tender, a demonstration of the monster’s willingness to accommodate Oscar’s impulses, and his superhuman resilience.
Pott has a rare talent for creating meaningful moments in her work, and Belly feels steeped in subtext. I’m admittedly a sucker for coming-of-age stories, and Belly clearly falls into that category, but its oddness elevates it above that genre. The pervasive sense of melancholy, the dream-like story structure, the dark, dry humour; all of them create a mood that’s hard to describe and equally hard to forget. For a film about the difficulty and necessity of letting go, it sure does stick with you.