This powerful new film written and directed by Matthew Fifer is a compelling love story with dark undertones.

It is rare to find a romantic drama film that effectively explores the two central character’s lives away from each other as well as their developing relationship – but with Cicada this is exactly what the audience gets.

Written and directed by Matthew Fifer, Cicada sees Ben (Matthew Fifer) patching together a life for himself in New York with a couple of different jobs and plenty of benders and hook-ups. His meandering approach to life is covering up a traumatic past which he is forced to confront when he meets Sam (Sheldon D. Brown) and their relationship develops. But Sam also has his own trauma and struggles to deal with including PTSD.

The way in which this raw but also sensitively told story is approached stylistically can be disorientating in places, as it combines almost a documentary style for some moments but then transforming to a more traditional narrative approach. This can mean that there are times it is difficult to connect to the characters and their individual journeys – particularly during the early stages of their relationship.

However, it has to be said the film does handle themes such as abuse and PTSD with great sensitivity, as seen when Ben finally tells Sam about his past. Although the details of what he went through are never told to the audience, the use of close up shots and music are perhaps more powerful than any words that could have been used to express this trauma. Another beautiful moment is then when he feels able to open up to people about his experience and hearing other people’s experiences, enhancing the sense of development that he is undergoing. Perhaps the only flaw is that Sam’s journey through PTSD could have been explored a bit more for equality.

Despite the darkness of the themes, Cicada has also a great warmth and tenderness about it as Sam and Ben’s very realistic relationship develops. The scenes in which the pair are quietly getting to know each other are beautifully captured.

The film is sensitively directed by Matthew Fiefer and features two excellent and believable performances from Fiefer and Brown who deal with their characters situations with great feeling. A genuinely heartfelt romantic drama for our times. Well worth a watch.

By Emma Clarendon

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐