top of page

Film Spotlight

Admissions of Desire
directed by Becca Rieckmann, US, 8:11


Who hasn’t wondered what would happen if they confessed a romantic interest to their crush? Who hasn’t imagined the perfect version of the other’s reaction, the ideal version of the conversation that would follow? Simply put, this is the premise of Admissions of Desire, directed by Becca Rieckmann. Through intimately grainy images and asynchronously presented dialogue, the film portrays a conversation between two characters who express, for the first time, requited attractions to each other. Not incidentally, the conversation occurs over cell phones, which facilitate these honest and vulnerable admissions. What results is a celebration of the magic of mutual romantic feelings which, when finally acknowledged, can bring together the disparate locations and temporalities of mediated conversations into a synchronized, emotional Utopia. 


Romantics in the audience will be relieved when the initial awkwardness of the conversation quickly gives way to genuine, giddy intimacy. The film isn’t telling another all too familiar will-they-won’t-they story, thankfully. The characters have their vulnerable conversation over the phone, so they are shown in handheld, textured, black-and-white Super 8 as they occupy their own spaces, unselfconscious of their facial expressions and gestures, unseen by the other. The cell phones play the comforting role of a device where privacy and openness meet. The characters use their phones to make their leap into vulnerability a little bit safer, because it necessitates that they remain spatially distant, half-hidden, a digital confessional box. In fact, both characters imply that they have long held the thoughts and feelings they express to each other but would not utter them without the convenience and safety of the cell phone. As a result, the cell phone call becomes the necessary mediator of the desires and emotional risks of the characters and, thus, the film literally puts eros on the line.


While the conversation is presented continuously, the images and dialogue are disconnected. As we hear one character talk, we see the other react; we never see either character speak. While the characters are ostensibly reacting to the words as the audience hears them, we can understand the film as asynchronous, as it refuses to explicitly match image and sound. In seeing the listeners’ reactions, however, the film presents the couple as being emotionally in sync. The potentially fraught conversation is perfectly smooth, pleasant, and exciting. Here is where we find the film’s idealism, its emotional Utopia. Again, the romantics in the audience may be best primed to accept this lack of friction or conflict, but to call the film utopian is not to say that it is unrealistic or that it does not earn its happy ending. What we might first think of as fantasy becomes quite convincing when the unspoken is uttered, the anxieties are soothed, and the implied is made explicit (in more ways than one— the pair comes to articulate the specifics of their sexual desires). As spectators, we must, and do, accept that the connection between the characters is real and undeniable, something they already know because they feel it. And the romantics are aware that feeling is the most important kind of knowing.


Too often, experimental-narrative films are presumed to be pretentious, inaccessible logic puzzles. Admissions of Desire proves the contrary, that this mode of filmmaking relies only on universal, human experiences to access and understand. The film invites its spectators to think with their hearts, which, after seeing the joy of the characters doing the same thing, is contagious.


At the film’s end, one character accepts the other’s direct (and frankly sexy) call to action. They abandon their cell phones, they eliminate the distance between them, and we can imagine what happens next. And when the closing credits roll, maybe there are a few more romantics in the audience than when the film started. 

-Billy Palumbo, Festival Director

Visiting Associate Professor of Film, OCU

bottom of page