Sunday, April 7, 2024

Of Living Without Illusion (2023) NDNF 2024

An actress with an imploding relationship  rehearses a play with her ex-husband and tries to hold her life together.

Echoing the work of filmmakers like Chantel Ackerman who would use long takes to make us an observer from just out of a moment n real life, OF LIVING WITHOUT ILLUSION ups the ante by adding "deep and meaningful" dialog in an attempt to give meaning to the film. It’s a ploy that pushed me away as the film seemed intent on stating what we are supposed to be feeling in the dialog instead of showing us in the action.

I grew wary from the second scene where several of the characters sit around a table and discuss the meaning of film and how we are supposed to watch them. There was a Statement about how films are not for everyone, and it made my warning sensors going up since the statement and the conversation seemed intent on taking a stance in order to prevent us from poo pooing the film. The film seems to be taking a stance that it and its filmmakers are better than the audience.

The pretensions are wrapped around the broken relationships of the characters. While there is something there, the film is trying so hard to get us to connect to the people but the intellectual discussions overwhelm the emotion and it somehow feels artificial. The emotions being expressed don’t feel  as though they are being felt by anyone on screen but being expressed as an acting exercise, or more often just stated in the dialog rather than expressed in the performance. We can see  director Katharina Ludin moving her characters around.  

I want to apologize for expressing my feelings but the truth is that half way into the film I realized that the emotional core of the film, the actual story, the characters, the situations actually pack an emotional punch if you can strip the artistic artifice that Ludin has buried them in. If this was a less an art house film it would kick your ass. It doesn’t need the pauses and the silences and the camera always standing outside the action. This is a film that needs to be in the room where it’s all happening and getting up in all the actors' faces, something Ludin refuses to do.

A miss.

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