Sunday, September 8, 2013

Concrete Night (2013) Toronto Film Festival 2013

Moody black and white imagery is the selling point in this drama from Pirjo Honkasalo. The film is the story of teenage Simo who is having apocalyptic dreams. As he watches over his older brother who is do to go to prison on Monday  he tries to come to terms with himself and life.  But things spiral out of control when he meets a photographer who lives across the courtyard from him.

Dripping with meaning and pretensions this is a great looking film but I don't know if it adds up to much beyond that. The reason for this is that the film is so insistently about something it actually seems to be about nothing.

Actually, what is it about really? I don't know. I've read some blurbs on the film and the source novel, but what I got from what the novel is about didn't seem to come through in the film.

Is it about Simo's sexuality? The film is full of homoerotic imagery and talk of the "poof" across the way who fascinates the boy and who will be key to his fate. It also frequently seems that Simo is going to try and jump his brother.

Is it about how we are doomed and that there really is no tomorrow? Simo's brother comments that Simo is the only one who sees the world as it is, as the animals do with no tomorrow?

Is it simply about the loss of innocence and the destruction that can bring into ones life?

Is it about nothing?

Is it just about the visuals?

In my notes for the film I wrote down that this is a Yes, and... film, meaning its a film where the film forcefully announces to you that it is about something at the start and then never really tells you what that something is. In this case it is more than a drama, and you have the feeling that you are supposed to get great things from it but it never tells you more than that except that you better notice it because it is about something.

Beyond shaking me by my lapels I don't know what it wants me to feel. I got to the end and all I could think was yes and...?.

To be honest and fair, if you divorce it from it's need to be special this is a good, but not particularly great drama. It has some great performances. It has some stunning imagery (which occasionally reminded me of Guy Maddin).... but I can't say anything else.

Worth a try if you're so inclined...

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