Symptomatic | Film Threat
Feb 26, 2023
Writer-director Sonia Gumuchian’s short film, Symptomatic, takes us into the ins and outs of workplace sexual harassment and how the system is set up against the victim.
After Dr. Mark Peyton’s (Drummond Macdougall) assistant abruptly quit, the dedicated Angie (Kate Williamson) takes over. Dr. Peyton quickly notices that Angie looks exhausted, and placing his hand on her shoulder Peyton expresses his happiness that Angie came aboard and tells her she should go home, rest, and come back later. Thus begins the pattern of harassment, continuing with excessive compliments on her work and physical appearance. Then the awkward hugs begin. Finally, Angie reaches her wit’s end when Dr. Peyton makes an after-hours drunken advance.
“…Angie reaches her wit’s end when Dr. Peyton makes an after-hours drunken advance.”
Gumuchian’s Symptomatic takes us down the path of sexual harassment. First, there’s the assailant, Dr. Peyton, and then there’s his prey, Angie. Dr. Peyton lives two lives as a well-respected and kind doctor and the man in authority/predator that takes advantage of his position and reputation to get his way.
Angie, on the other hand, suffers in silence. She is stuck putting up with Dr. Peyton’s advances as she’s sure no one will believe her or they’ll tell her she’s reading too much into his behavior. Kate Williamson gives a fantastic performance, perfectly hitting all the emotional cues, allowing us to walk in Angie’s shoes.
With Symptomatic, Sonia Gumuchian shows that she can tell an uncomfortable tale. The filmmaker is able to out the feelings and emotions of that story solely in her actors’ performances. Though stories of sexual harassment have been told over the decades, it’s sad that this short drama is still as relevant today as ever.
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