Within days of giving birth to her stillborn baby and returning home with her husband Jonas, Robin’s breasts begin to produce milk. Grappling with a bottomless sorrow neither can quite articulate, she continues to pump. As the days turn into weeks and their fridge begins to crowd with dozens of bottles, Robin’s determination to donate her milk grows from a cautious curiosity to an uncompromising, near-obsessive commitment.
In her achingly poignant debut feature, filmmaker Stefanie Kolk explores grief not through an excessively plying score or heavy-handed dialogue but rather at its most bare and natural: in moments of silence, gazes and thoughts unsaid. The result is a film that is deeply penetrating in its quietude, Frieda Barnhard gives a revelatory and understated performance as Robin, embodying the complex bond between mother and child, the profound melancholy of its loss and Robin’s guardedness with exquisite nuance.
Shot with graceful simplicity by cinematographer Emo Weemhoff, Melk is a delicately painful tale about forging a path forward through the subtle complexities of bereavement, that illuminates Kolk’s freshly astute, deeply resonant cinematic voice.
Selected for Harbour at IFFR 2024.