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A genuine achievement
Patience is a virtue, especially so in cinema. Keeping that in mind, Ms. Schanelec proves yet again that she's one of the most genuinely uncompromising auteurs working today.
I will admit that it takes a while to get used to these incredibly distanced, intentionally lifeless dialogues, even for someone like me who isn't solely interested in exclusively realistic true-to-life interaction. While grounded in today's time, this is vaguely based on a 19th century play and the acting does partly feel as stylised and otherworldly as that may suggest. These people find various ways to speak and express their minds, be it in what first seems like riddles, sudden desperate screams or mere body/facial language. The viewer gets thrown into that seemingly actually functional, alive world, and it can get very uncomfortable to take part in an intimate situation with people you don't yet understand, let alone know. And yet it feels so great. This is exactly what cinema should strive for, the highest it can achieve; rapidly letting the viewer grow into being part of something that felt so indifferent just a few moments ago. Understanding and knowing characters like you're actually part of their lives, like you grew up with them. Making you able to feel for and with them. The less this is achieved with, the more impressive it is, and I don't think I've seen many films that have done it with so little and as easily as this one (basically the only competitors being Nanouk Leopolds ingenious "Wolfsbergen" and of course Haneke's "Code Inconnu").
Even on the aesthetic side, there's very little to complain about. The framing wasn't always top notch (then again I'm terribly, terribly picky with that), one or two shots should have been held longer, but really, given what this film actually manages to achieve, any criticism in that department almost feels trivial. It's visually phenomenal, basically inventing a complete new cinematic language with quite a lot of close ups, those glary, blurred backgrounds and very spare and perfectly timed editing. Plus, Angela Schanelec looks like Carrie Brownstein. What more could I ask for!