Of all the films I’ve seen, this is one of the more difficult ones to either review or to give a meaningful rating. Certainly evaluative dichotomies like good/bad and interesting/boring seem unequal to its strangeness, and it’s quite likely to be either one you find transfixing or infuriating, or more likely both. This is mainly down to its elliptical and elusive narrative structure, that entirely eschews plot in favour of the creation and manipulation of mood and movement. There’s no dialogue, just a voiceover (in Swedish, as it’s filmed in that country) reciting poetic texts about love and loss. The performers use their bodies to enact a fin-de-siècle lesbian relationship drama, in which the key locations are a bright and airy home, a glowering forest by night, and a bitterly cold windswept landscape. That it’s created by a modern dance company seems fitting, given the attention paid to textures, imagery, music and atmosphere — all that stuff that’s usually in service of the story with other films. At times this has the effect of making the exercise somewhat abstrusely academic, but there are still pleasures to be had. The images captured by cinematographer Marcus Waterloo have a soft-edged oneiric quality, the camera seemingly pushed to its limits in being blown up to a cinema screen size, but that’s quite in keeping with the film’s woozy internalised melodrama — though when I say “oneiric” that’s partly because I may have slumbered somewhat during the middle half of the film (it was at night, I was tired!). Sound too has a pointillist quality, little shards and fragments of the performers’ actions layered and expertly manipulated. Certainly, there’s plenty enough to say that’s complimentary towards the film and its intentions, just that in practice it is a difficult film to connect with. Approach it as filmed art piece, and you may be on safer ground.
Directors André Semenza and Fernanda Lippi; Writer Semenza; Cinematographer Marcus Waterloo; Length 90 minutes.
Seen at ICA, London, Tuesday 10 March 2015.