If you look at actors nowadays you will notice that they all act in a way that references the fact that they are acting. That’s because this is the way scripts are commonly written. It is a notion that has been integrated for a long time by writers and audiences readily accept it. In fact, this is how most people perceive plays, movies, or almost any work of art. The idea that every word and phrase has a meaning, a goal, serving an intention, moral or message. There is no secret world our camera just happened to stumble upon.
But I am not complaining. We have our share of Bujalski’s, and in this case Haneke, to abstract this notion, enough to transmute the intention, or message, to a layer above the spoken word, to something inhenrently cinematic. Kar-Wai is amongst those as well.
So this film here is fantastic as usual. The same Haneke brushtroke, same stark contrast, everything pointing to someting thought provoking and contemporary. If you vaguely watch the news, or are concerned even merely with world events, you will immediately recognize that this is speaking to you.
And ah, what vision! I wonder if there is another artist as concerned with social, wordly, intellectual notions, whose work is so deeply rooted in emotionality, as though we had Godard, Bresson, Cassavetes, and Hitchcock, wrapped into one ingenuous mind.
As with most good filmmakers, you will always find a visual essay on the process of filmmaking, above the film. Code Unknown was my favorite for that, but this one here as sober as it is, weaved with the most precision, is so nuanced that it is almost ethereal. I would name Malick, but the concerns are so different for both of these guys that they would never cross each other anywhere.
The story unfolds as you would expect it, but there’s something always bitter about the paths it takes. I believe he writes the script in one go and then comes back to distort familiar predictions. That way, no melodrama, no satisfactory moral choices, no pre-imposed notions of justice. This trick is so clever that if you figure it out, not only are your predictions distorted, but it becomes impossible to devise any anti-predictions from the anxiety of being confronted with them. Hanekian is a word, once again, I believe.
I cannot recommend this enough. It goes on my conscience-altering list, which is next to life-altering, and will always have fewer.