*Online Premiere* John and Mel are an impossibly lovey-dovey young couple moving out on their own for the first time. At work, they’re caught in the service industry spin cycle. At home, they tease and tussle with the play-aggression of puppies. John agrees to be directed by Mel in the lead role of a script he wrote. The shoot’s tiny agonies (the passive-aggressively vague direction, the inevitable awkwardnesses conducted within the earshot of strangers) form the hair-thin point of a wedge that dangles over them.
At its most poignant, Free of Thought’s gaze floats backward from its habitual kissing distance. Alone or as a pair, John and Mel appear, always with the city—first Melbourne’s paradise of oppressive sunshine, later Montréal guarded in snow—like a canvas flattened behind them. On neutral ground, they sense with aching lucidity the cost extracted by time: how a shared life can drift imperceptibly from enfolding the two to trapping them. And how rupture, apartness, and reconstruction, more than just time alone, make us older. (96 minutes). Written, Directed, Produced and Edited by Nathan Barillaro. Starring John Russell and Mella Gardner. Cinematography by Tom Swinburn.