Fisayo Osilaja recently released her debut short film Rouge, documenting love, heartbreak and the emotions leading up to self-discovery. The six and a half minute long production channels a narrative reminiscent of Warsan Shire’s poetry on Lemonade. Osilaja lays emphasis on her characters, further bringing them to life through her use of dark and red lights; a not so subtle play on the characters Rouge and Bleu themselves.

The narrative voice of Jzov Najea describes Rouge as a ‘book with many chapters’; a premise that lays the foundation for the film as we explore the pages from unsure start, to joyous finish. Riana Nevels excels in her portrayal of Rouge. There is an unsteadiness in self as seen as she walks prior to meeting Blue (Serge Johnson). The uniting of the two doesn’t come naturally, there is a shakiness that slowly ebbs as both find comfort in each other. The hesitation becomes a comfortable pairing which in turn becomes a rift that leaves Rouge alone once again. Despite the change in status,  Jzov Najea’s voice carries viewers along even as Rouge lets Bleu go.

The final image of Rouge in a room of red balloons, hidden and smiling is beautiful. There are appear to be moments where she’s uncomfortable gazing directly at the camera but this eases away in the last few moments. Overall, Osilaja triumphs in her first film, there is an engagement with the issues tackled and a clarity in its portrayal.

When asked on her motivation for the movie, Osilaja revealed to Culture Custodian that it was borne from heartbreak and she intended on using the movie to tell her story while also creating something people who had encountered similar experiences could resonate with She said:

“This guy I trusted with all my heart broke me. While it might sound dramatic that’s how it felt. I felt broken and exposed because I opened my heart up to him and he took me for a ride, of course it hurt you know? Anyway, through my hurt I began to write a story to describe the experience. My goal with the film was to focus on colors to convey the transitions in a love lost: the excitement, the euphoria, the betrayal, the pain, and the recovery. Through this film not only did I aim to express myself but also I wanted to give a voice to those who might have experienced or gone through a similar experience and to remind us that those experiences are important and essential for our growth and development into better versions of ourselves. More visuals to come and I really hope everyone enjoys this.”