A slow slog through a meditative photographic lens
Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa in this independent art film about the grieving process of a young woman who lives in a timber harvesting town. Theresa's role in the assisted suicide of her ailing mother at the beginning of the movie lingers in the background. The movie incorporates the use of heightened audio sounds and photographic shots of nature along with a sound track to enhance the cinematic experience and pacing. The juxtaposition of the old industry of timber mining that Theresa's husband undertakes while she, herself, actually helps out in the newer assisted suicide dispensary commercial field is a fascinating contrast of old and new occupations. The timber mining scenes are enlightening for their graphic and location setting ambiance of a hard and perhaps life limiting expectations for a future couple now living in Theresa's mother's home which was her mother's wish and which, however, her husband isn't exactly thrilled about and whose promotion will take him away from home for longer hours.
Insect sounds, bird chirping, the wind along with the creative shots of wood old growth, shimmering sun rays all combine to portray a sense of nature that humans only inhabit as interlopers and observers. Theresa is often seen as a diminutive figure against the larger natural setting of gigantic wooden tree trunks and lakescapes along with the plucking of wistful musical string accompaniment. Very solitary, very somber. At the same time, the director shifts perspectives between nature scenes and wood cutting scenes offering the contrasts in the environmental setting where the movie is set and where the movie's character's exist and likely living out their lives. There is very brief physical motion of an older man turning himself in a circle while saying, "I'll see you around." in a touching, melancholy moment as he's about to leave the medicinal dispensary.
Whether or not seeing Theresa a lot of time in short skirts and in one scene almost half-naked while hanging out at home alone was deliberate to keep the male audience interest or not, it still was effective in presenting a captivating figure as well as suggestive of an authentic presentation of life at home usually covered up or lewdly displayed in most other typical movies. Yet unlike the trailers, the movie seems to revolve around the meaningless lives of people living in a timber town and the aftermath of a possible important life altering mistake. As a consequence, the movie seems to plod through its visual and audio digital footprints in a languid, almost boring pace like those characters on the screen, only heightened by the editing and addition of environmental sounds and music and artful depictions of nature -- Even the swishing, sparkling crisp tinkle of musical tones and glittering splashes of light from a carwash. There is also a lingering unspoken relational tension between Theresa, her husband, and the medicinal dispensary owner as a underlying theme to the movie. At the same time, there is a sense of decay, an almost empty refrigerator with uneaten cake and spoiling eggs.
The totality of this movie is a slow slog through a meditative photographic lens that seems to lead towards an ambivalent and meandering course to an inconclusive ending unlike an analogous but more striking and straightforward storyline like one of the best of its drama genre Another Earth (2011) or even Dunst's earlier stark and hard-hitting drama Melancholia (2011).
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