Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Through the Forest (2005)

This is a difficult film to write about, partially because its style obviates most discussion of itself. It's composed of ten unbroken shots, but it's not done in a way that calls attention to itself; rather, the complicated formal aspects of it get obscured by the fact that nothing flashy or attention-getting is being done with them. It's a contradiction of sorts: Extreme formalism used to capture extreme naturalism. In a way, this is more satisfying than if the director had been calling attention to his methods every single moment, but it does make discussing them more difficult that usual. The real reason I'm reluctant to say much about this film, though, is that to discuss what I believe are the film's intentions would thoroughly ruin it. Most people have name-checked Under the Sand in trying to convey what's going on here, but I think it's more akin to a certain well-known and influential film that I will not name but which has received the Criterion treatment. I could back this up, too -- I could note the radical change in the color scheme halfway through, or I could note the timing of a certain conversation as a before-and-after breaking point... but then, you would then not need to see the film. Which I think you should, as I may be wrong anyway (the film is certainly ambiguous enough to allow multiple interpretations). Aside from that, it's also blessed with an remarkable debut performance from Camille Berthomier, who has to run the gamut from sexy to sullen to sweet to sad and back again. (She's also extremely pretty, especially in person.) It's a careful film deserving of careful consideration. You don't need me spoiling it for you -- just see it if you can find it.

Grade: B


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