The film tells the tragic story of a woman who finds herself in the woods with no memory of what has happened before. She meets a strange figure whom she recognizes and feels a weird sort of attraction towards, but what is this figure? Or who is it? Told in a very unique way and making the visuals lead the way, this film breaks a lot of ground.
HOLY FUCK! Well folks FINALLY got to see this, after months of waiting and speculation on my part. There may be some spoilers in amongst this lot, so if you want, go away now, but my suggestion is that you stay...
As many of you know, I saw what I thought to be great promise and talent from our good friend, Ronny Carlsson, with some of his earlier work and what he has shown us to date from his latest short "Récompence", by way of pictures, screenshots, etc. Now I want to take you along for my ride of viewing this 30 minute or thereabouts "short" that Ronny sent me. I know he won't mind my blatant honesty in reviewing this, he accepts the good and bad and I personally respect him for that. We must all "grow" and this is a stepping stone for him, to what I believe, with the right promotion and support, great things. I had read a review posted on a forum and had heard it was a "silent, beautiful film". Indeed it is that, but there is so much more and here is what I found.
The story basically revolves (I believe) around a couples car accident and coming to grips with the eventualities that occur from that - both internally and externally, emotionally and spiritually.
Shot in black and white, this concept adds rather than detracts from the film - colour for some of the shots would literally be "over the top" and I found the concept gave the ability to see so much more clearly, the subtle clarity of each and every shot. Perhaps more than I have found in many other B/W that I have watched.
The scenery in some cases is truly breathtaking - the waterfall water flow, the emerging snail etc., and don't forget the beautiful Mariette's haunting eyes in the first sequence where she is lying prone on the ground. I recognised what she was seeing from the outset but this did not stop me being engrossed throughout the movie. The B/W shots also kept me looking for more than perhaps there was - this is not a criticism, there are subtle differences at times lurking in the background... this hooks you in. I found myself at times seeing or making out things that were not in fact there at all... or were they?
There is no need for words here, the flashbacks, excellent music score, nature's natural sounds and use of "Groundhog Day" flashbacks and "re-runs" give you all you need. Keep watching for those subtle differences - believe me, you can do nothing else, even if you try. Was the haunting figure Mariette's "ghost" or was it "death'?
The use of changing camera angles (especially in the first entrail scene) was very well done and again, the B/W rather than the use of color was very effective. I wonder if the occassional splash of color would have enhanced this at times? But then again it's NOT a horror movie. I believe it is in no way intended to "shock", although for some, (not many of us at this place), may find a few of the sequences "disturbing".
"X" marks the spot - time perhaps to move on with ones grieving process and face reality - whatever that may be. A clever way of changing the direction of the film and subtly advise the viewer we are indeed "moving on" to another aspect, incorporating yet another journey - one that must be walked and come to grips with before we can find 'resolution". But will we?
Are we facing Death with each victim? Must we understand it and quite literally devour it or "become" it? I think we do or are certainly asked too. Mariette must come to grips with her guilt, her love, her lost love and return to where she came from. Can she and does she actually do that I wonder? I will leave that up to you to decide.
There may be some who do not like the brief pauses between each sequence, but I found this necessary to help aid the story line and delineation between events due to the fact that there is quite literally no speaking and yet Mariette haunts us with unspoken words.
Yes we see full nudity. Mariette has unselfishly exposed herself to us (and to Death?) and let us see that she is indeed truly beautiful - not a "sexual" being, just a thing of beauty. I applaud Ronny and Mariette for this. It was not "shoved in there" to liven up the movie - more so, it enhanced it and was quite frankly necessary.
I am proud for Ronny that he has achieved a very high level with this movie. Both he and Preston ("Film Bizarro") have done an excellent job of writing this one. Mariette needs congratulating for her performance, her allowance for us to see her naked and her tolerance for what appeared at times cold settings where she quite clearly had "goosebumps". Amelie did an awesome job with the FX - they were not over the top, they fell in line with the style and pitch of the movie and the more gory aspects were realistic. The haunting figure entrigued and taunted us with questions about the movie and perhaps our own thought processes.
We do indeed have a beautiful, silent movie here, but it is so, SO much more than that. I believe you (the viewer) will be left wanting more! I want this seen at the New Zealand Film Festival and will do all I personally can to see that it does just that.