In a secluded house by the sea with the curtains shut, a screenwriter hides from the world with only his dog as company. The tranquility is abruptly broken one night by the arrival of a ...
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In a secluded house by the sea with the curtains shut, a screenwriter hides from the world with only his dog as company. The tranquility is abruptly broken one night by the arrival of a young woman fleeing from the authorities. Refusing to leave, she takes refuge in the house. But come dawn, another unexpected presence will change everything. Written by
Regardless of the compelling first ¾ hours, I was a bit disappointed about the remainder
I saw this film at the Berlinale 2013 film festival, as part of the official Competition section. In October 2011 I saw a predecessor "This Is Not A Film" in the Ghent film festival 2011, made by the same film maker under very constraining circumstances, among which a pending 6 years prison sentence, plus a 20 years ban on making films. In spite of some reviewers who found that one a bit boring, I was positively surprised that someone was able to make a compelling film within the confines of a single apartment. Nothing much happened but still enough to maintain my attention span, and more importantly forced me to think about judicial systems in some countries where I don't really want to live.
Given that, I may have expected too much and must admit my disappointment in "Closed Curtain". Nevertheless, the first ¾ hour was promising. It pulled you in the story at once, as per the outline in the synopsis on the festival website, in which situation anything can happen.
Our main character had every reason to hide, and particularly the dog he owned. These reasons were very obvious, clearly demonstrated on a TV program where we saw what happened with dogs, being declared contraband by the regime, showing that harsh measures were taken to kill them all.
The intruding couple was hence not very welcome. But he could not send them away either, apparently also on the run like himself. The "brother" half of the couple disappeared after a while, promising to come back soon, and he got stuck with a woman he knew nothing about. She could be a spy or have an otherwise hidden agenda, especially when she started talking about "having made reports about people like you" (but immediately lowered the tension, by stating it was her former job). For what reason she was on the run, did not become clear. Same applies to her "brother" who disappeared shortly after their intrusion.
Suddenly, after an hour, we find ourselves in a frame story, aforementioned two people now becoming just actors in a play. At that moment, I lost track of what the film maker was trying to get across. The Berlinale website links to a press conference, where was mentioned that he had trouble writing scripts, which was his reason to hide in the remote villa in an attempt to get some progress. He had good ideas but could not put these on paper. But (as per the press conference) the intention of the frame story was to serve as a vehicle to visualize the screenplay, rather than putting it in words, something he always had trouble with.
As a take away, I heard a notable dialog with a friendly neighbor, who says "There is more to life than work There are other things too." His response: "Yes, but those things are foreign to me." In a nutshell, this speaks volumes about the drive of this film maker, who continues with making films against all odds and defying all constraining circumstances.
All in all, I understand that many of us feel with film makers and other creative people who have to work under conditions unlike in our Western nations. This I see reflected in most other reviews and articles about this film. But still, though I found "This Is Not A Film" surprisingly full of content, contrary to many reviews I've seen at the time, this "Closed Curtain" one left me stuck in the middle, after a compelling ¾ hour that demonstrated very well how people live in a suppressed country. But a script writer with a writer's block as a subject does not appeal enough to fill the rest of the running time. I may have missed an important clue, however. That must be the case, since this film received a Silver Bear award for best script from the 2013 Berlinale International jury.
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