Stesti (Something Like Happiness)

Stesti by Sohdan Bolam

My biggest concern with cinema, is form, and content, and the way they may manage to meet. The perfect film would be a cross between Cassavetes’ emotional encounters, Kar Wai’s camera, Medem’s sense of narrative structure, and Godard’s spontaneous essayistic bouts.

But only few people understand the inner mechanics inherently cinematic in films–where the invention must take place–so we have films like this one win at San Sebastian.

This is a story about people having difficulties of an extreme nature in their interpersonal relationships. There lies a grand discord between their actions, their words, and their desires. It is a typical narrative setup, with cinematic opportunities, in fact, most great movies are set-up in this way (I am thinking of Dreyer). The masters know what these problems are about and understand them well enough to turn them into some idea of art that we think up with film. But our filmmaker here is as confused as most of us, so he goes the way of the theater: emotional exaggeration filling up inventive space. The message is in the words assigned to the emotions portrayed. No risks. But the characters here will have you believe otherwise, don’t trust them.

There is one image that sticks in mind. It is an establishing shot of the main character (pictured above) driving a truck with two kids. I thought I was in for something Malick-ian. No such luck.

(P.S.: It is a much better movie without any subtitles. I believe this might be Kubrickian in the way the images create a narrative of their own. It might be worth watching based on that merit (as something like a visual essay on modern rural life.)

Update: As of this writing, this has taken Best Film at the Montreal Festival Nouveau Cinema (http://www.nouveaucinema.ca). Sort of a shame for a festival that prides itself in being “a showcase for new, original works… committed to highlighting and contributing to the development of new trends in cinema.”

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Categories: Notes

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