Him & Her

A modern interpretation of He & She, a short story consisting of letters between two lovers written by Anton Chekhov in the 19th century, Him & Her illustrates how the way we love hasn’t changed over the years. Directed by Daria Geller, Him & Her questions the nature of love – an anti fairy tale offering a more realistic depiction of relationships. A tale of love and hate, the short film explores toxic dynamics which, though they don’t fit into society’s expectations of romance, can form an intrinsic part of love.

The film revolves around the concept of love and hate being inescapably connected. The playfulness, the teasing, the pushing and pulling become behaviours that the two main characters have adopted over the years – a visceral way of loving which they thoroughly enjoy and despise at the same time. In an unfortunate paradox, only with the ones that we truly love do we feel comfortable enough to show the worst of ourselves.

Him & Her explores how when we love most of our time is spent dealing with mundane tasks, waiting for those rare moments of love for which we are willing to go through anything. In the film this is shown when the female lead goes on stage to perform, as this is the moment her lover falls in love all over again. We never hear her sing as nothing in the world could ever be as beautiful as the way he hears her voice. Similarly, though she performs to an audience, she relishes in being adored by him. With every scene gradually turning redder and redder as we approach the moment of her being on stage, they are both fully aware that as soon as the performance is over and they return to their rooms everything will go back to being grey.

There’s a true rawness to Him & Her. From the cast and cinematography to the sound and styling, there’s a constant battle between contrasting feelings, moods and qualities. Two people capable of being ugly and beautiful at the same time, that equally love and hate one another and can’t stand being in the same room, but would be left empty without each other.

The film is an ode to Russia’s somber and melancholic aesthetic. Featuring garments by Russian labels Lesyanebo and Brier-wear, Him & Her is set across three distinct locations picked for their clear Soviet design: Hotel Che, Hotel Uzkoe and the Central House of Architecture. The Russian identity is equally felt through the lack of dialogue, something which would normally fill a relationship. Unable to openly talk during the Soviet Union, communicating without speaking and focusing on the unsaid has now become part of the Russian way of living.

Him & Her is the first narrative short film directed by Geller. Currently it’s being screened at a range of international film festivals and has won Best Short Film and Best Actress at Cinalfama, Best Short and Best Cinematography at Indie Short Fest and has been nominated for Best Cinematography at ARFF Berlin International Awards.