Kerbie

Details . Thriller . 2022

Synopsis

Kerbie (1 hour, 30 minutes) Written and directed by Alebachew Aragie

Set in an affluent neighbourhood in the city of Addis Ababa, the film is focused on what happens inside the white-washed home of an attractive couple and their teenage daughter, Kiwi. Their contentment and peaceful co-existence is disrupted unexpectedly and rapidly deteriorates as trust turns into deception when Kiwi falls prey to her father’s complex friendship with a man who saved her life and yet betrays her. Kiwi weeps that she is the Kerbie, bark of the Myrrh tree, condemned to endure the suffering of bruises that have cut deeply into her life.

Trailer

Review

A truly interesting film for anyone that appreciates Ethiopian cultural expressions and the nuances that are woven between the film’s title and the actual production. Kerbie, the bark of the Commiphora myrha is the source of the ancient fragrant, aromatic, healing resin also known as myrrh. It is extracted by penetrating the bark and bruising the sapwood and was used to cleanse the air following the crucifixion of Christ. Myrrh is a strong metaphor that invites deeper observation of the inner conflict suffered by the paternal character and his wife and daughter. Yet, the metaphor is only once used in the film and is hardly applied to the inner dialogue of the suffering main character, which is left minimal in the same way as the dialogue with his family and friend. Heartbreak, shock and physical pain are all expressed with the same degree of melodrama expressed first when wrath is inflicted upon Kiwi, the starting point of her dramatic loss and unpredictable future. Kerbie defines only her suffering. Could the philosophical nuance of the title have been more creative to express and convey the emotional turmoil better? Or, was it safe to contain the focus on a secret crime with a measure of cathartic confusion, a role distributed to every character?

Written by Nightingale for habeshaview, February 2022.

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