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Les enfants terribles (1950)
Like Rimbaud's poetry
I saw this twice in a single day. And couldn't stop watching this after. Each time I start watching a Hollywood movie I can't help but surrender back to this surrealist nutjob where nothing is really definable.
Much of the literature I've read on this focus on the unlikely collaboration between Jean Cocteau and Jean-Pierre Melville, with most putting it in context of Cocteau's other films. But I've always thought that Cocteau's Orphée, made during the same period, feels static and leaden amidst the classical style of its 50's direction. Les Enfants Terribles, while retaining a very classical premise, is completely revolutionary, resembling the unruly romanticism of Rimbaud's poetry. Nothing in the film stays the same - everything is constantly shifting; dyamics are constantly changing; even the sets change in subtle ways. Everything is made purposefully ambiguous and ambivalent such that paradoxes and contradictions abound in a single emotion. But ultimately, as all great Melvillian films are, the film is about the futility of humanity in the face of life and death.
I could go on and on about this movie; Melville is truly one of the great poets of cinema.
Les amants (1958)
The most romantic film ever made
Louis Malle's Les Amants is the most romantic film ever made. Screw subjectivity and critical judgment. I've just come off fresh from seeing it, and, in the spirit of the film, I'll let my excitement wash over me instead of letting it die down to see it coolly. Seeing it gave me one of those precious moments, moments where you gasp and go oh-my-god, disbelieving your eyes that cinema could go to places like this, and make you feel things you never felt were possible in fiction.
Buried within the Optimum Releasing of the Louis Malle box set, but it emerges the most deafeningly romantic, even when compared to the already celestial ending of the more famous Elevator to the Gallows. Its blissed out view on happiness makes it impossible to attach any critical adjectives to it; it requires us to suspend all thinking faculties and just go with that one powerful emotion.
It's amazing how it turns what could've looked like a cover of a chick romance novel into something this beautiful. Henri Decae, who almost single-handedly created the first images of the New Wave, literally sets the screen aglow in ecstasy, painting the two lovers in a heavenly light in that pivotal centerpiece, which is one of the greatest moments of cinema, bar none. Even Jean Vigo's L'Atalante holds nothing on this. (There will be spoilers from hereon, and I would urge you to stop reading this paragraph if you've not seen the film. The joy of discovery in this film is so much more than any other film I've experienced, that I'm wholly convinced that one should experience this as fresh as a virgin.) Stripped of their daily pretenses and graces, the two lovers traverse a God-made Eden, becoming simply Man and Woman and reuniting again, several millenia after the First Man and First Woman were expulsed from paradise. When Jeanne Moreau takes Jean-Marc Bory's hand and asks him 'Is this the land you created for me to lose myself in?', the gaze is sealed and the viewer can do nothing but share in their passion. The two lovers become such eminent symbols of love, sex, and happiness that it's hard to imagine anything more sensual and erotic than this, especially when compared to the fully colored and fully exposed sex symbols of today. They belong to an era removed from any other, not the era that the film was made in, but a black-and-white, pristine era that exists only in cinema, one in which true love still exists without the moorings of reality.
And the decided lack of moorings in this film is what makes it so bewitching. Whether it's the fleeting white horse or the eyes of the beautiful beautiful Jeanne Moreau, the film doesn't look back, but indulges fully in the moment, that moment of sensuousness. It is so fitting that the film should be called Les Amants, because anything else would be pretension - the lovers become the lovers of any era, any millennium, by their love alone they have been elevated to the great lovers that have long passed. They transcend being, nature, rules and become one - spirits entwined - with a world that is beyond the tangible, such that any rational reasoning will not be understanding. It's a magical world, a fantasy world, a world that is as unreal as we want it to be real. And this world, the film proposes, can only be reached through a temporary moment of love, un-selfish, immaterial, illogical, and unquestioning love. And when you're able to give yourself in, together with the film, it suddenly becomes so clear and not that unreal anymore.
At the risk of sounding like a nut, I just wanted to recommend this film to everyone who thought that this century has made us cynical. Cinema, which began and evolved with this century, has rarely stepped out of its time so gloriously that it becomes a monument, a structure of those classical (and probably impossible) days. It is the single most ravishingly beautiful moment in the history of cinema.
Freaking brilliant film! I enjoyed the hell out of it. In crafting an old-fashioned Faulkner-style Southern Gothic tale of brotherhood turned sour, David Gordon Green has created a masterpiece that is not only intensely atmospheric, but also deeply moving and at times downright scary. From its highly stylized opening to the ending, this textured and rich film will provoke endless discussion to its meaning and its many implications. Green has layered the action here thick and rich such that there is so much depth to the brotherly relations of the two generations, and the shocking (and it's really shocking) violence that ensues is but a cypher for all the undercurrents swirling around underneath, all played out beautifully a human tragedy against the forests and plantations where such human dramas had been played out for ages and centuries beyond.
Like all of his previous films, the Southern landscape has always been a large part of David Gordon Green's painterly canvas and this film is no exception. He is the only present filmmaker who has directly inherited William Faulkner's sense of reverence for the landscapes--where, dwarfed by the heat and dense forests of forgotten yore, the characters play out their little epic dramas--and his pulse on the treachery and love that bind the people together. The Southerners in their works are not mere rednecks who chew straw on their patio and watch their livestock all day, they are fiercely intelligent folk whose strength and willpower to survive come in no indirect relation to the harsh landscape they are born in -- fighting humid and sweltering heat most of the year, and short, raw punishing winters, they have no other options than to carve a hard existence whose dramas often mirror that of the temperamental weather.
But at it is with all Southern tragedies, the core of the film is the duality of the human heart -- its savage darkness and the triumph of goodwill. The relationship of the father and the uncle of the two boys--brothers who turn from love to hate by greed and jealousy--is put to contrast with the relationship between the two boys, who may not even be blood related, but share a bond stronger than the violence that threaten to destroy both of them.
The film is split clearly into two halves, with the narratively looser, lyrical second half more resembling David Gordon Green's previous works than the nightmarish first half. While the film definitely succeeds as a thriller on domestic violence (the pivotal scene gets the uneasy feeling of a nightmare so down pat, that it is one of the most disturbing scenes this year, even if it wasn't meant to be a horror film), it also works as a meditation on the insular family tragedy put against the world at large, which is shown as corrupt and dirty. The father's desperate attempts at protecting his children from the heartbreak and loss of the outside world shatters at the arrival of the uncle, fresh from prison, forcing the children to immediately grow up awkwardly and painfully, and to escape into the filthy decay of the outside world.
Whether or not the human spirit indeed triumphed in the face of violence and decay is purposefully left unclear. The ambiguous and abrupt ending, while depicting a sense of warmth and care, gives the viewer a sense of unease at the same time, and that ambivalent feeling is left hanging long after the screen turns black and the credits start rolling. This ambivalence is felt throughout the entire film, with the destructive darkness of human treachery often lurking underneath the beauty and comfort of the human spirit, and the two halves of the film often express that ambivalence with a little of each half peeking through in both. As such, it remains a complex film that will reward anyone who dares plunge into its obscurity. For whether it is light or darkness at its surface, there is always an undertow of uncertainty plowing through.
Is this what indie cinema's been reduced to?
Through its 2-hour running length, Crash charts the emotional anguish of its 10-odd ensemble of characters when faced with the sometimes blatant and sometimes latent forms of racism underlying in American society. That and the emotional anguish of one of its audiences sitting near the front and desperately trying to make sense of what movies have become these days.
The era we live in has become so complicated. Not only do we reject modernism, even the not very enthusiastic flag-waving of post-modernism ideas is always being shot down by what, post-post-modernism that aims to destroy all these ideas, all in no part thanks to the great destructivist ideas of those great 'thinkers'. But I digress. This has nothing much to do with the what the movie is about, but rather what the movie is.
Sure, it seems hard to earn a living in a Hollywood that has to cater to a market that is so post-post-post everything that cynicism has become more than just a motto in life. It has become part of everything we do and part of everything we think of whether we like it or not. And so a new studio product is born! Indie films, which once were energetic and idealistic in its defiant experimentalism now seem to be as equally adamant as Hollywood films to sell to indie film markets. An indie film must sell at Sundance before becoming 'acclaimed'. And so nothing is simple anymore. Even what constitutes a good film becomes so murky. Whereas in the past filmmakers just wanted to entertain people and tell a good story--and in these seemingly simplistic attempts the greatest of films are borne--filmmakers nowadays have to make films that are good first and foremost; films have to make people think, have to be meaningful, has to be provocative, raise questions, yadda yadda yadda. What it all boils down to, is a subversion of the Hollywood movie system, but this subversion seems strangely similar to the formulaic similarity of Hollywood films, the countless ways of differing to essentially be the same product.
And I haven't even begun on the film yet. Maybe I've become too picky on films I see these days. Maybe it's because of my primary need to be entertained, rather than, say, be probed when seeing a movie. But hell, this movie is one big load of crap. And I'm repulsed by this movie not just because it follows the How to Make a Good Movie Good 101 guidebook to the T--characters spout eloquent lines and are sooo witty like they're gifted with the speech of God; it raises issues about racism and life confronting racism in America; it has 'touching' moments where everyone discovers more about themselves and more about other people; not to mention the fact that once you hear the ambient/new age soundtrack of women singing in high registers in foreign languages, you know you're in for all of the above traits.
And something about the aforementioned point--about it raising questions about immediately-compelling issues like racism--pisses me off big time. Like all post-post-post-post-post everything movies, it doesn't contend with just having a message about this issue. Because oh, our audiences are much to intelligent for that these days in this post-post-post-post world. Our audiences want us to make them think, doesn't want us to put things so simplistically, (and then they will go into existentialist crap and say) that's because life itself isn't simplistic. Ha ha ha. What other common drill do we here then the audience need to think about issues rather than have them fed to them. Okay, okay, and okay. So the film makes it a point to pound the audiences with these non-messages and since they're not exactly a message, it's so decidedly subtle and subtle means good right? So we're being hit again and again with this well-written subtlety with the eloquence of rhetorical prose. And as if the irony is not steep enough, we have Ludicrous' character, the only character who seems to not take all these racism discussion bullshit seriously, being 'converted' into one of those irritatingly meaningful characters where he learns something in the end, giving meaningful looks and pauses where audiences are supposed to 'learn something about themselves too'. Um, yeah. How I wanted to see an incredibly racist film right after this man.
To cut the long bullshit short, I guess I wouldn't have taken issue with the film if it wasn't so bloated in its self-importance. The angst that forms the entire movie felt more like white-boy whining than actual Spike Lee-ish anger. It's so Tim Robbins and Sean Penn, the type that wants to wave flags about humanitarianism when the only thing they don't realize is the flag they're waving is their hole-ridden underwear. Plus it's become so trendy in the post-post-post-post world to be completely subtle about it. Nothing is simple any longer. In its best efforts to actually be good, provocative, and ultimately human, it's become neither, imho, just another indie crap from an indie director that wants to make a name out of himself as a credible indie-filmmaker. Now at least Hollywood is more simple and sincere in its manipulativeness.
You will miss these characters.
Much nothing ever happens in your life.
You go through the routine of sleeping and waking at the same times, travelling to work on the public bus, spending your day at your job which doesn't give you any kind of immediate remuneration. Your mind idles off to whether the money for the job is worth spending your life on, then you take the public bus home again, looking out at the sights you are used to, listening to the music you feel the most comfortable in. And usually on this bus ride home, most of the angst you feel in the morning is replaced by a irrepressible fatigue that tells you honestly that life is not just about chasing pipe dreams; life is also about going through it as best you can and surviving.
And as this goes on you get used to not expecting much out of life, not expecting much out of relationships, because that's the easiest way to be, just being. There is not much need to expand, really. There is not much need to feel the crests and falls of emotions. There is not much need to continue seeking, to continue dreaming, to continue hoping. And this is by no way any mistake; this is only part of the process of going through life, getting eased into it to not allow yourself any more anger that comes from lost hopes. Soon, as you get settled into your groove, you don't find going through the same days mundane anymore. You don't question what is expected of you out of life. You don't feel the need to keep expanding and expanding anymore.
Once in a while, you grant yourself the pleasure of watching a picture in a darkened cinema, vicariously and voraciously living the lives of people you don't know; people whose lives seem more exciting than yours; people who experience highs and lows so much that you feel as if you are experiencing the same highs and the same lows. You sit alone in the darkened theater by yourself--you are used to being alone--while somewhere else behind you, young couples are busy checking each other's necks out with their tongues. You see this, but you don't bother. You are only interested in the people living on the screen with you, sharing with you their pains and their hopes. Then you walk out of the cinema, and your life returns back to you. You realize that it is only a short relief, before you have to face reality again, the reality that you are really not so special.
Sometimes, the people in the movies cease being characters. They cease becoming people whom you fantasize about or feel pity for. Their lives suddenly seem so mundane and simple to you, and like you, they have stopped dreaming and started living in the real world. You see their everyday movements, everyday actions of endless repetition, and their normal, placid emotions that do not dare affect them in their daily lives. You grow so used to the repetitive actions, the repetitive shots, the repetitive dialogues, their every movement, that you find them so familiar. You feel as if you are sharing in some of their private lives, even if it is just make-believe. And when they discover something kind or special in their routine lives, your eyes widen and your heart fills with warmth. Mundane lives can be so beautiful too! You tell yourself secretly.
And in their daily effort to live, you see how their lives subtly affect other people's lives. You see how such small acts of kindness, can gladden your heart. You see how they are used to their loneliness, and then when they find companionship, you see how gladly they hang on to them, no matter how minute their friendship may seem. You see how comical they are in their lonesome blues, and you sneak a laugh at them, knowing fully that at the same time, you are laughing at yourself and with them too. Then you find that after all, there is comedy in pathos, and there is sorrow in bliss too.
At the end of the movie, the movie ends and the characters fade away into the blackness of the screen and the dark recesses of your memories. And suddenly you miss the repetition that bored you earlier, the simple mundaneness that was conveyed so simply. As you walk out of the cinema and see people walking out together with you, you feel more alone than ever before, as you're deprived of your newfound friends that you have fallen in love with in that short span of 95 minutes; like when you get used to being with other people, being lonesome again suddenly seems so difficult. And as you sit at the back of the cab on your way home, you feel that you've lost something special, even if that specialness came from make-believe situations, and a tear runs slowly down your cheek.
Human Touch (2004)
Evocative work of art
I feel the title 'Human Touch' itself is misleading. Upon hearing its title and reading its synopsis, I was misled into thinking that the film would be a simple story about how touch is important in our lives. But how far it is from the truth. If the title was not meant to be intentionally misleading, I thought it would be far more apt to name it 'The Human Touch' because it is really more about humanity than anything else. But then again, if director Paul Cox really named it that way, not many people would even bother to see it in the first place. I would, for one, dismiss it as yet another existentialist arty-farty piece of crap that nobody can understand.
Human Touch is of course existentialist art-house fare, but it is also something else altogether. Because it doesn't purport to know anything about the mystery that is ourselves, nor does it have any theory of the reason of our existence. It too, like us, is seeking in understanding further just exactly what makes us tick, and how we can simply be, after we inherited millions of years of culture. And this shared culture, is so vast and inexplicable, that we simply call it 'humanity'. But what is 'humanity'? And does anyone even understand any cornerstone of it? In this way, the film's provocative nature reaches into many beings of humanity. From the arts, history and religion, to our bodies, morals and emotions like affection and lust, it never ceases to probe and question just what drives us to do things a certain way that other creatures would not do. And how our surroundings and our history binds us together and affect us collectively and yet, splintering us in many different directions and personalities.
But the film never engages into verbose intellectualizing a la many French New Wave directors who just get lost in a world of their own by talking and talking about theories and never managing to shut up. This film has a heavy anchor by the very real people in the film and their relationships, such that every decision they make and every emotion they feel, doesn't help us any better in understanding their, say, 'character design', but only manages to open up more vistas of the mystery that is us.
This is wholly because the film doesn't seem to be theoretical. In fact, it is far from theoretical, its people often seemingly idiosyncratic and unfathomable but always very plausible. It explores all these questions not by theorizing like most art house directors do, but rather by allowing us to experience. Not unlike Tarkovsky, whose great work similarly explores humanity by framing mankind's actions against our surroundings and nature, the scenes in this movie are not linked by logical linearity or emotion, but rather through ambient noise. From the ancient stalactite caves that echo with baby cries and church bells to the great emotions within people ringing with rapturous choral voices, this film puts us through experiences that connects us--rather than alienate us--and makes us part of a far greater whole - mankind.
For what my young eyes and ears can see and hear is little, and bound by my limited sensory capabilities; what sadness or happiness I feel is bound by my shallow experiences in life; what ideas and concrete thoughts I can construe is bound by my fundamental education and understanding of the world. But what connects us all, and can only be reached through intuition, is the spark that the creator puts in all of us, that separates us from the other creatures and the inanimate - the human soul. And this movie touches so unflinchingly on this shared human nerve, that all that I am made of is not as important as what I am part of. Where I share the same blood as generations of creatures who have come into consciousness of themselves and the womb surrounding them.
It is what I enjoy finding in cinema, that if any one moment can touch on this what I perceive as the human soul, then that is worth sitting through piles of crap for. For the human soul--the truth, as what more philosophical people would call it--is worth every inch of living for. And this movie uncannily hones in to this same nerve that we all share and quiver for, and holds on to it unflinchingly. True, it may not have been genuinely successful in every inch of its celluloid film. And I would be hard-pressed to say it is good for its individual technical parts. But what little the film understands about its subject matter, it knows this: that most reasoning and emotion cannot bring anyone as close to the human soul as raw intuition. And the intuitive power it brings to screen by merely seeking the human soul, and by large, finding it, is all that matters and all that makes it a truly truly great film.
Kôhî jikô (2003)
Ozu is dead.
Ozu is dead. If there's one thing that Hou manages to prove in his tribute to Ozu's centennial, it is that Ozu is dead. Never is there going to be another man who can portray human relationships in the same light as Ozu. The same steadfastness they have as they try as hard as they can to hold on to each other; the sadness they feel when having to leave the family; the difficulties of living together in one household; the moments of regret that they have when one of their family has to leave; and their final acceptance that these are all but a part of life.
Hou shows us a Japan that has changed so much from the Japan that Ozu so painstakingly tries to hold on to by capturing it on his camera. Each tear, each regret, each joy is now lost in a world that tries too hard to change. Wim Wenders first laments this in Tokyo Ga on how banal Tokyo has become and how much of an imitation culture new Japanese culture is. Cafe Lumiere, while not being as impassioned as Wender's masterpiece, is every bit as pensive about its regret of the passing on of the old Japan that Ozu loves so much.
While in Ozu's films, a pregnancy would herald a big event in a family's lifeline, in Cafe Lumiere it is merely a passing thought. While in Ozu's films, the lead character (most often played by goddess-like Hara Setsuko) would usually be self-sacrificial as best she can to ensure the family's togetherness, here Yoko is determined on striking out as a single mother, regardless of her father's silently burning disapproval.
Undeniably, Hou doesn't pass much judgment on his characters. In fact the portrayal of Yoko only shows her as a very modern and much independent Japanese female that is fast becoming the norm in Japan. The female who does not want to be tied down and holds little regard of familial values. And definitely, it would be seen as regressive should Japan return to the past for the sake of the days when family was at the core of societal structure. After all, the definition of progress is change right? Yet, one can't help but feel the absence of Ozu in this movie, the absence that makes its tone all the more poignant in spite of its spots of warmth. Ozu seems to be like the ghost of Maggie Cheung in 2046, or the missing woman in L'Avventura; he is not there, and is never referenced in the movie, and yet, the opening shot of the movie and a few scenes of familial warmth gives one such a pang in the heart that is so distinctly Ozu. In fact, that Hou decides to have many shots of trains departing and leaving and criss-crossing each other in modern Tokyo, and letting us hear the all-familiar sounds of trains going across railways that is so definitive of Ozu's films, only shows that he is fully aware of this fact, and, like Wenders, is seeking to find what little there is left of Ozu's spirit. In the overwhelmingly modern backdrop of Tokyo, we see how something of the past, like the cafe that Yoko hunts for, that some people so want to preserve, has been turned into another urban development project. However, in the film, Hou also shows us that although the landscape of Tokyo now denies Ozu, there is still decidedly some of Ozu's warmth in human relationships. Like how Yoko still feels the same kindred spirit as she tucks in to her favorite dish that her mother has prepared; seeking out old sights in her hometown, sights that remind her of times when she was a kid and still not thinking of independence. And just perhaps, in showing all this, Hou is persuading us to accept life as what we can, just as how the people in Ozu's movies eventually have to accept the loss of one of their family members.
I went to Tokyo last June and coincidentally, Kamakura was part of the itinerary. I remember how excited I was, since Kamakura was many a setting for Ozu's films, and it was the place where Ozu was buried after his death. As I reached the Kamakura station on the Enoshima metroline, my heart was all awashed with glee to see that the station looked almost exactly the same as it looked in Ozu's films. The same old signboard, and the same railway tracks against looming mountains. And yet as I walked around Kamakura (now a popular tourist spot for its famous Daibutsu or Big Buddha), I couldn't help but notice how foreign it was despite its quaint Japanese-ness. There were so many tourists walking around the town amidst its quiet surbuban houses, and so many signboards blaring English signs. In a bid to find Ozu's grave, every time I saw a cemetery I would go over to look if there was a tablet that has only a 'mu' character on it. But I never found it. Sigh.
Dekalog: Dekalog, piec (1989)
Decalogue 5 left me speechless.
It left me shaking my head in despair. It left me moved about humanity. It made me take a hard honest look at the world around me. It left me raw and abraded. It left me feeling cold about humanity and its inherent evil. It left me feeling deeply touched by humanity and its inherent goodness. It made me rethink my concepts about justice. It made me rethink my concepts about compassion. It left my mind in a total state of shock reeling from the last image. It made me feel like a whirlwind millennia of humanity just washed past me.
All this in one hour.
In short, whoa.
The perfect movie
Is there a movie that's practically flame-proof? This is probably the biggest flame-bait among Tarkovsky's works. Convoluted? Disorienting? Pretentious? Art-house crap? Poseur? What does this say about the movie, or by extension, what does this say about the people who like this movie? Perhaps writing at length about this movie can be too easily seen as inflating one's ego and self-image. Sadly, proclaiming about the movies one love seems to be too easily seen by other people as focusing on beefing up one's street cred rather than one's love for the movie.
No matter what, to save any other criticisms or any kind about myself or the movie due to this post, I shall not lavish any saliva on it. Safe to say the movie can speak for itself. It perhaps speak a language that, in similar respects to my post about this movie, sparks criticism as boosting the director's art-house ego, rather than love for the craft itself. It is sad that art-house has been delegated to such a status.
Criticisms nonetheless, I will say without any pretensions that right after I saw this movie, I wound it up to the beginning and saw it again, immediately. My strong connection to the movie is inexplicable, as is the movie itself.
If there is one movie that I would choose to represent art-house cinema, this would be the one. Yet, this would be the one movie that I would never recommend to anyone for my selfish desire to keep it pure and personal, safe from the risk of anybody degrading it or humiliating it. The movie shows to me a strong ego-less love, the very reason why art was created, the very reason why art-house cinema exists. And at the same time, the very reason why art-house cinema is reviled, and seen as pretentious crap.
From the first scene, from inarticulation to articulation, from its articulation to my inarticulation at the end, this process that repeats itself every time I see it again is a very personal, and inarticulate affair. This film is a miracle to me.
I can't say I know Luis Bunuel's style well, since I've not seen many of his works, and those that I've seen usually just struck me as blah. But then yesterday I saw Tristana which starred Catherine Deneuve and was awe-struck by it. See, the comments that I've read online about it have seem to have the focus all wrong, they are more interested in commenting on Bunuel's usual attack on the bourgeois and catholicism. Yes it is dark and in some places rather surreal, but above all, Tristana is a simple and sad story about its characters as they grapple with life, love, loss and regret. It is especially well-crafted with its sinewed study of human relationships, and humans that desperately try to relate with each other.
Tristana, played brilliantly by Catherine Denueve, is the central character whom we see evolve from an innocent young girl with her many ideals about love and relationship, to a bitter and cynical woman at the film's end who cannot believe in anything any longer. It is with special finesse that Deneuve plays her, that we witness, with heartbreak, every turn of her back on the things she love, and every rejection of all morality that she held before.
Fernando Rey's character is probably the murkiest but ultimately most empathetic character, as at the end of the film, age wears off his hard-edged cynicism and turns him into the loving father figure that Tristana desperately needed in the beginning of the film. In a sense, it is a film about age, how when we reach a certain point in our lives we see things much clearer and as it is, rather than try to twist things to our advantage. The way Rey's character treasures the time with the vile and vindictive Tristana at the end of the film is not only overwhelmingly sad, but also an epiphany by an auteur who is gaining age himself.
In spite of all its dramatic turns of events, Tristana is not an emotional and angsty film in its portrayal of its characters' lives. Instead it is a soft and peaceful film that sympathetically accepts its characters' flaws as much as it forgives them. It is a film that evokes the intricate feeling of looking back in our dark and troubled past and finding the exquisite moments of happiness amidst all the cynicism and grit. When, towards the end, Rey reaches the peace that he has been struggling so hard to attain throughout the film, he notes, 'It's snowing so hard outside, but in this house, I'm nice and warm. What's there not to be happy about?'. A silent recognition that peace is not bending reality to your own will, but merely, acceptance.