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Electric Malady review – dreamlike study of one man’s debilitating illness | Documentary films

This impressionistic documentary takes us into the insulated world of William, a sufferer of a debilitating condition that has forced him to retreat from the world to a barricaded cage in a cabin, deep in a Swedish wilderness. Once a musician and master’s student, a young man who approached life with curiosity and joy, he now suffers from chronic electromagnetic hypersensitivity – a reaction to the electronic radiation that surrounds us all in this age of digital connectivity. With his head shrouded in protective fabrics, he cuts a spectral figure that would be absurd if it wasn’t so desperately sad.

Partly shot on a hand-cranked Bolex camera, to avoid further triggering William’s illness, there’s a glitchy, fluttering quality to the film’s visuals. Film-maker Marie Lidén sidesteps the medical science around this somewhat contested disease, instead adopting a creative, dreamily poetic approach to evoking William’s lonely existence.

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Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash