FC At Cannes

Cannes 2024 Short Take: In Retreat is a Haunting Portrait of Loneliness

Anupama Chopra

Here’s my short take on In Retreat, by debutant director Maisam Ali, which played in the ACID Cannes sidebar. The sidebar, run by the Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema, was launched in 1992. This is the first Indian film to be selected. In Retreat is about the external and internal journey of a man who doesn’t belong. He’s missed his brother’s funeral and now seems unable to summon the courage to enter his old home. The character is played by Harish Khanna, who you might recognise as Manoj Sharma’s father in 12th Fail

This man, who has no name, wanders through the night. The film is set in Ladakh but Maisam doesn’t fall back on the usual wide shots of those glorious mountains. Instead DOP Ashok Meena creates a grim beauty. In Retreat is purposefully opaque. In one scene, someone asks the man: “Phir laut ke kyun aaye aap?" (Then why did you return?) But Maisam isn’t interested in a specific answer to that question. Instead we get a haunting portrait of loneliness. Incidentally Maisam is one more FTII-trained filmmaker at Cannes this year – he and Payal Kapadia were classmates. Clearly the institute has much to celebrate.