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João César Monteiro
Philip J. Spinelli,
Manuela de Freitas
Cold, a little less grey, wordless comfort, almost
The House was reviewed a little less favorably than Bartas' earlier films (regular cinemagoers having given up long ago), but personally I found it his most beautiful film yet.
Bartas does tend to repeat himself, it's true. Reviewers love his grim shadowscapes, shot in B/W, of anonymous, more or less lonely, drunk or disheveled men and women stumbling through a haze of cold forests, smoky houses and city wastelands in seemingly arbitrarily fashion - but even they get, I assume, weary of it.
(Contrary to what you might think based on the above, there is nothing gothic about Bartas' depressed realities; and he himself insists, whenever somebody dares suggest a socio-political interpretation, there's nothing Soviet about it either. It's existential. No matter, to me his 'The Corridor' still serves as a brilliant visual summary of the comfortless, hopeless human condition of the former Soviet Union).
But The House, the way I experienced it in any case, showed a whole new step. Not just because there was some color. But because abstract, surrealist scenes of indulgence - eating, caressing - and a suggested presence of tales about the house were added to the mere stumbling in the dark, making the film sensual, almost, without ever lessening the impact of how lost (these) people seem.
More than that. Having suspended, first, your urge to recognize or follow any story line, then, even, your urge to formulate any analysis or interpretation of the images he's providing you with - by the time you're just looking at what you see and *feeling* - suddenly you find yourself watching at a fire outside, on the ice in the lake, and there is a glow, and even the sound of unexplained fireworks, and although it's still lonely, it's *pretty*, and you - well, I was, in any case - are moved, sincerely moved.
That's good, if mere images - without plot, without actors, without explanation or meaning even, can move you, to your bones, almost make you cry in grief or relief, that's pretty good. 10/10.
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