|Index||5 reviews in total|
the best thing about promises written in water is how it reveals the narcissism, not in the director, but in consumers of cinema today. by presenting an impressionistic cycle of events that belie the richness of love beyond the walls of a cinema and providing the opportunity for an audience to re-experience them purely empathically--anyone with whom the events do not resonate is just expressing both an inability to empathize and the personal tragedy of never having accidentally loved in the absurd way that love should exist. everyone knows asking an audience to think about anything is hard. we now know that asking them to recognize their own vulnerability is even harder.
I attended the world premier of Promises Written in Water at the 67th Venice Film Festival. Vincent Gallo's third feature film may in fact be his best-directed film so far, which is saying a lot since he directed two of my all time favorites, Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny. Gallo's newest film Promises Written in Water is an extremely fanatical yet stripped down poetic masterpiece. Predictably the film has already been and will surely continue to be misunderstood for it is complete originality. Gallo's newest film is extremely radical and complex and its story is told in a subtle manor way outside of the convention of the mainstream. The films vocabulary is stunningly sophisticated and those who choose to describe the film in standard film review terms are insulting cinema and insulting themselves. Since Promises Written in Water does not follow a program which is comfortable for lazy mainstream writers, they must lash out against Gallo and they do so most often more personally than in regards to his work. Still Gallo continues to grown creatively and Promises Written in Water reveals the work of an very important high-level filmmaker at the top of his game. The film is simply beautiful. If your lens for watching films is stuck in past references or your expectations are standardized then I suggest you avoid this film. Personally I am grateful that a great filmmaker like Vincent Gallo can still exist in this world.
Vincent Gallo's Promises Written in Water defies both convention and
categorization. From its beautiful black and white cinematography to
its skeletal narrative structure, the film plays like a great novel
where rather than spell out every single plot detail, the author (or in
this case director) has instead chosen to give the reader (or the
viewer) the joy of discovering key elements and using those elements to
synthesize storyline on their own.
The film's sparse narrative tells the story of a dying girl and the unlikely man she asks to assist her during this time. It features two very strong acting performances from Vincent Gallo (who also wrote, directed, produced and edited the movie) and newcomer Delfine Bafort.
Watching this movie one can't help but reflect on the current state of experimental, independent, or whatever you name you choose to call non-mainstream filmmaking. You would not be alone if you come to the conclusion that the only filmmaker today who is willing to take the risks associated with living outside the mainstream film world is Vincent Gallo. He is also the only person who possesses the sensibility and the talent to consistently turn out films that resonate on multiple intellectual levels while maintaining a unique cinematic beauty.
Gallo has made another truly original film. And that is something one would be hard pressed to say about any other filmmaker working today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I truly loved this film. It's a gorgeously shot, minimalist, sensitive
and tender chamber-piece. Gallo is a master of improvisation and in
total control of every gesture, expression and body movement. His
female co- lead, Delfine Bafort, is a revelation. The DP, Masanobu
Takayanagi, deserves a great deal of acknowledgement. Elsewhere, the
film's judicious and meaningful use of silence is worth noting.
What I think will be referred to as "the Collette scene" (the film's first dialogue sequence) alone I would happily re-watch a dozen times over. Let's hope this film is around long enough for those of us who continue to recognize and appreciate those impossibly rare examples of pure cinema.
Saw this film at TIFF the other night. I must admit I was a Vincent
Gallo fan while growing up, having loved both the offbeat Buffalo 66'
and The Brown Bunny but Promises Written in Water is an absolutely
terrible film. Narcissistic in the worst way imaginable and grotesquely
misogynistic throughout. As per usual, Gallo was not in attendance to
promote his film, having instead opted to go back to New York or LA to
avoid the cacophonous sounds of laughter at the puerile dialogue,
terrible editing, awful photography and amateur acting. There is
nothing remotely noteworthy about this film other than the running
length which is a mere 75 minutes. Gallo is an original artist to be
sure, but that doesn't mean what he makes is all that great. See it as
a curiosity piece.
Better luck next time....
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