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"When you don't fit in, it's always your fault."
One of the films I was most excited to see at Cinequest was According to Her. Described to me as what would happen if all those detached New Yorker films came together with the French New Wave and somehow ended up directed by kieslowski. Watching it, I discovered a wonderful sensation that I seldom experience in films. It's one of being a complete outsider in a world in which you are deeply immersed. It's a feeling that no matter what you've done, no matter where you are, you are not of that place. We are treated to the story of Veronica, a brilliant concert pianist who has given up her own career to raise her son. She is married to Paul, a French ex-pat in New York. They meet this wonderful musician Amanda, and things become complicated. Every character is looking for connection, for some anchor. Looking at the film as a whole, you can see that there's a powerful sense of what art means to these people, and to the viewer by extension, but there is also the idea of discordant interaction. Every relationship we are presented is, in some way, toxic, and perhaps none so much as Veronica's relationship with Motherhood. She's a wonderfully caring and loving mother, but she's allowing it to define, and thus confine, her, and at the same time, she is utterly dependent on it. It's such a difficult role to play, and it is handled so well. One exchange, an attempt to make a connection with another Russian mother in NYC, shows just how desperate Veronika is to connect within a world she understands, among Russians. The competition between Veronica's desire for something Russian in her life, and the interior of the French sub-culture she's steeped in is the crux of the film, and it is powerful.
This is also a film of dinner parties.
Let me explain briefly why this might make this a horror film. I am terrified of dinner parties. To me, they are the single most uncomfortable thing on the planet. Being an outsider forced to endure the sort of gatherings that all dinner parties descend into horror itself, terror on a Lovecraftian level. Her, Veronica is painfully forced into these situations where she has to endure... well, life among the French. That's so tough, and you can see the discomfort she experiences. The single greatest moment in this film, as far as this guy is concerned, is when Veronica finally has enough of Amanda at one of these feeds, and gives her... well, let me not spoil it but instead say she's the damn BOSS!
This is a wonderful film, one that is not sparse, but gives you room to wonder. It is orchestral, at the same time, soloistic. It is a story of the pain of being the atonal within a world of chromatic progressions. It's the stridency found in that insistent hammering of a piano key too firmly struck. In short, it's a damn beautiful film.
Klaus at Gunpoint
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