Even though it won the Camera d'Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, the film was banned in its home country (Sri Lanka) by the UPFA Government of Mahinda Rajapakse in tandem with the Sri Lankan military. The filmmaker, Vimukthi Jayasundara, received death threats and relocated to France. See more »
vimukthi jayasundara's debut feature is a film of surprising stillness and serenity. it strikes you by being so unusual and so brilliant at the same time. the film deservingly won the camera d'or for best first film at cannes this year.
the film is an expression of misery that is the result of many decades of civil war in sri lanka. the landscape comes across as desolate and an aura of death can always be sensed. the people living in this land seem robbed of their humaneness. they're like automatons, functioning for the sake of functioning. their only source of pleasure are brief, emotion-less sexual 'quickies'.
one filmmaker jayasundara is obviously influenced by is tsai ming liang (taiwan). like liang, jayasundara's characters are alienated from everything human. lonely, disconnected and indifferent to their own tragedy, they inhabit a world devoid of intimacy. but jayasundara goes beyond the mysteriously fascinating imagery of liang to create a more engaging and almost hypnotic film.
if you're expecting a film in which something happens all the time, or you're looking for overt meaning in every scene, this is not your cup of tea. there is very little dialogue. the film is full of long takes and moves at a leisurely pace. the director shows a kind of indifference to plot. a scene is not a build up to the future, the essence of the movie lies in each and every scene in itself. surrender your intellect, stop trying to find meaning, just put forward your hand like a child and let the film guide you through its desolate, detached beauty. unlike what many might say, this is NOT an intellectual's film. on the contrary, its a film that requires you to not use your mind too much and to view the film in an unconditioned way, not expecting it to go this way or that. it completely goes against what we are habituated to. the film's progression from a beginning to a middle to a climax is not important. life doesn't move like that.
vimukthi jayasundara clearly belongs to that set of directors who talk in a cinematic language that is liberated from the literary, plot-driven narrative. partially because i do not view this kind of cinema very often, the film leaves you with a sense of calm and an appreciation for its inventive brilliance. on the low side, the style is detached and distant and lacks the ability to manipulate your feelings like a well-crafted, plot-driven film. i don't quite know what to make of these feelings. its a film that you won't forget and will really want to talk about and discuss.
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