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Opening film of Rotterdam film festival 2017. Misplaced choice and lacked contents overall
This was the opening film of the Rotterdam film festival 2017 (iffr.com), and as such may give rise to expectations of something remarkable or otherwise special. Alas, I cannot think of many positive remarks about this film. Several people around me had a lot of laughs throughout the running time, but I had mostly trouble to produce even a tiny smile. Maybe I'm embarrassed seeing a definite loser on a definitely downhill path, where everything he does fails on him. And it would certainly have helped when Isaac had only been just a tiny bit of sympathetic. Now it is all just sad, nothing humorous about it. I know that many people delight (schadenfreude) in the suffering of others, but I'm not one of those. (Counter example: I love all the Ulrich Seidl movies, where you also find yourself embarrassed while watching, wondering whether you can stand it much longer. Nevertheless, I always endure to the end and even watch these movies more than once. Best example: his Paradise trilogy, especially Paradise: Love.) Anyway, apart from me the audience was not happy with this movie either, as it ranked a lowly 158th (out of 172) place for the audience award.
There were some links between Isaac's life at home and the acting classes (like the "I I I" that offended his girlfriend in an early scene). Are these classes an artificial construct, introduced by the film makers, in order to make a point?? (If yes, I missed it.) Or is it just a means to humiliate others or to showcase his own shortcomings?? (Partly, see next paragraph.)
The final Q&A clarified several things. For example: this movie resembles the lives of the film makers, feeling out of place (black, Jewish, etc), and it resembles their personalities too. There was a question about music and composer, but the answer escaped me. There was a very valid question about acting classes, coming down to: are they really that way?? The answer was that teachers are very abusive and impulsive as a rule. They can quit class and run out, or behave otherwise very crazy. There was a question about the family reunion, whether it was for real?? The answer was that a comedy can make sweet what is shown on screen. It is something not happening to you, so you can feel good in spite of it, like feeling less lonely. Lastly, the Q&A clarified the title of the film: Lemon stands for a lame person or thing, or something useless or crappy. As the film makers explained, that meaning of the word is obvious to all native English speakers.
Finally, a positive remark, in spite of everything: in the closing scene where Isaac's car is taken away to a garage or more probably a scrap yard (Isaac: "it just died on me"), we see the final credits roll by. For that reason these credits seemed not overly long, unlike the feeling I have with other movies. I've the impression that credits become longer every day, exhaustively mentioning even the smallest contribution in full (catering, chauffeur, and so on). It can be that this all is necessary in the context of financing the project, but it borders on annoying and only forces you to grab a flashlight and leave the venue before the lights get on.
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