Euthanasia is a touchy subject. A Handful of Dust gives a new perspective on the subject, and though we accept it as mercy, some instinctively might hold it in the same regards as murder. It brings mercy to the one who is suffering in their ailments, and perhaps even to those who tend to those ailments. Though, what if the ailments isn’t the physical sickness of the body, but of the earth, or to community in turmoil. When god, or gods, give no mercy, one must give sacrifice where the death of one, provides relief for others.
A Handful of Dust pulls on the heartstrings of The Wicker Man in a modern and mischievous manner. Doctor Goodman comes to provide the euthanasia that the law doesn’t allow. Under the guise of a terminal illness the doctor travels to a commune that has is not only afflicted by their sicked community member but also the drought that ails their daily lives. His role becomes greater than just providing a peaceful death, but he is a pawn in their ritual. Doused in monochrome and cloaked in the garb of the pagans, the film caters to our misconceptions.
A Handful of Dust does well with the creepy atmosphere, and gives the right about of misleading feelings. The community doesn’t initially seem malicious, and the mother genuinely expresses a desire to end the suffering. The truth reveals itself through various hints that craft the perfect reveal and properly create chaos for the doctor now trapped in the isolated commune. A Handful of Dust misleads us in the same manner that our heroic doctor finds himself the bringer of the wrong kind of death. The film has the proper amount of the right elements that really shows the potential of those involved.
Everything from the actors, presentation, and plot construction leads to a satisfying story that unfortunately only feels a bit too short. I expect to see great things coming from them in the future.
A Handful of Dust next screens at the Regent Theatre in Toronto on February 1st during the Pendance Film Festival.