This film is an immersion in poverty: although each photographic set-up is richly subtle and brilliantly composed, the subject matter of the film deals with the poverty brought on by the destruction of the past, by the loss of jobs and family and community.
It should be stated at the onset that probably, were this film were shown in the average theatrical multiplex, 98% of the audience would walk out in the first fifteen or twenty minutes, as the pace is glacial, there is no plot to speak of, dialogue is fitful and seems to be aimless (although if one listens carefully, the effect is cumulatively meaningful) and there is almost no camera movement whatever--single set-ups are made and the viewer often sees the same scene for fifteen or twenty minutes.
As many reviews have noticed, there are definitive echoes of Samuel Beckett in the "I cant go on--I'll go on" mood that characterizes much of the absurdity of modern existence, and visually there are echoes of Vermeer--well, enough. If you want action, laughs, logic and easy entertainment this film ain't it; most people would hate sitting through any of this--if, however, you want an intellectual challenge from a thoughtful filmmaker, this might be in your queue--but don't expect the usual feel-good art film.
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