The Red Suitcase
Guillaume Levil / Cyrus Neshvad
📷 : Licensed from Pixabay
Suspenseful and intense thrillers
Short films have their obvious limitations, and in order to stay within time and budget limitations, they often narrow their focus to one character, one location, or maybe even one object. Even with this narrowed scope, every filmmaker, regardless of project length, wants to properly convey the universe of their story’s setting.. It could be a fantasy realm, a period piece, or a multiverse. Or it could be more grounded, set in the present-day and located where most of its audience resides. However, some shorts give you one character, one location, one object, and a culture you may not have been exposed to, but nonetheless exists for a large population. Such is the case in the cat-and-mouse Oscar nominated short The Red Suitcase.
The Red Suitcase drops us into the middle of 16-year-old Ariane’s life-changing dilemma. As she arrives at the Luxembourg Airport from Iran, she dreads the new life that awaits her: a marriage arranged by her family. Her spouse-to-be waits with anticipation at the arrival gate, but she does her best to evade him. He is unfamiliar with her appearance and has only one thing to identify her by: her red suitcase. Ariane does her best to make it through and out of the airport in covert fashion, rebelling against the future assigned to her by her father. Despite her best efforts, she encounters obstacle after obstacle to her imminent safety.
Short films do not have much time to provide exposition or build tension, and The Red Suitcase expertly bypasses any unnecessary setup. The audience immediately feels the unease of Ariane before even grasping her situation. Her suitcase is filled with her own artwork, which not only reveals part of her personality but what will bring her joy should she choose to leave the airport with her fiancée. In the mere 18 minutes of the film, Ariane appears to be home free and then desperately hiding several times, giving the audience a roller coaster of emotions. Though she repeatedly uses wit and awareness, misfortune seems to lurk around every corner for her. The suspense remains right up until the final moment where Ariane is forced to accept a compromise.
Beyond tension, what the short film provides is a glimpse into another culture and the reluctance of adolescents who are forced to participate in it. Leaving home at such a young age is daunting when done of free will, much less to enter into an arranged marriage. It is not explicitly stated whether Ariane is having second thoughts or ever wanted this life in the first place, but her attempts to evade her future spouse fill the audience with dread from beginning to end. Any viewer of The Red Suitcase can decide for themselves whether or not to cast judgment on the traditions of another culture, but where the short succeeds with flying colors is making the viewer empathize with a young, lonely, fearful protagonist seeking freedom of choice.