In a suburb of Vienna during some hot summer days: A teacher who is in bondage to a sleazy pimp, a very importunate hitchhiker, a private detective on the run for some car vandals, a couple... See full summary »
The movie follows a group of young friends in the city of Tel Aviv and is as much a love song to the city as it is an exploration of the claim that people in Tel Aviv are isolated from the ... See full summary »
The stirring undercurrent of slaughtering chickens.
The first time I knew I had seen something special in Struggle was when the illegal immigrant woman (with daughter in tow) was first stowed away in a covered truck. They were heading towards the abattoir, for one of the woman's many "jobs" to come. Sitting in one corner of the truck, I caught a glimpse of the little daughter's expression, at the way she looked at her mother. It was weirdly heartbreaking. Previously an exuberant child, her lost of innocence in that stolen moment was so palpable, I was stunned for words.
What drew me to this film was hence less its factual insights, but more its ability to hide its devastating emotions beneath seemingly stoic behavioral veneers (very Ozu-like, I must add). Being deliberately pregnant with restraint before unleashing its actual "power", Struggle gave birth to emotional transcendence.
And I so far covered only one half of this flick....
At this juncture, let me wax lyrical about the inextricable connection between Struggle and my love for the Dardenne Bros (them of Rosetta and The Son's fame), for Struggle owed similar Dardenne-ish influences in its aesthetics and cinematic rhythm. A lot of focus was given to the seemingly ritualistic and mundane work details in this movie; from the menial picking of strawberries to the conveyor belt slaughtering of poultry, from the polishing of brass ornaments to the cleaning up of rich folks' pools etc. But gnawing beneath that layer of normalcy, in those intently activity-centric scenes, laid a gulf of tumultuous emotional tension. They were screwed so tightly (knowing full well the protagonist' emotional state and struggling background), I could hardly breathe.
Struggle is amongst my most favourite films during this year's Singapore International Film Festival. If not for The Son (and the brothers behind it), I would not have been able to pick up on the nuances or entrancing vibes reverberated off Struggle's 70 odd minutes. I would never have realized a work of such poignancy had been projected on screen.
One more instance of gratitude I should attribute to those brilliant Belgium brothers already.
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