“People like to think of themselves as points moving through time, but I think it’s probably the opposite. We’re stationary and time passes through us. Blowing like cold wind, stealing our heat.”
Disclaimer : I have yet to read Iain Reids novel.
This is a DENSE movie and a very hard movie to talk about without spoilers. It really requires intense active listening which will be a big turn off for some. Some of the dialogue seems very needlessly heady and not consequential to the plot but in hindsight it was very much essential. This is a film that demands multiple watches, at least, I plan on watching it again. I went in completely blind, avoiding the trailer at all costs so as not to have any expectations going in. I think that was bittersweet because I was never sure what movie I was watching. It seemed to dance between genres and I had no idea what to expect, which made the broader overarching concepts and ideas harder to digest. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the film that things started to sink in for me.
Charlie Kaufman is more emblematic of the term auteur than any other working director that comes to mind. The portrayal of subconscious in his works feel so vivid and authentic and he uses so many different tools to convey that state. There were multiple moments in this film that I questioned whether I had heard something correctly, not because I didn’t physically hear them, but because he uses intentional framing, asynchronous editing, and sincere performances, to make you question your own perception. That is why people call his work “dreamlike”. Lots of directors can show trippy visuals but few can truly capture that feeling of broken logic, and unease you feel when just waking up and questioning your reality for a moment.
Though I don’t think that is his goal necessarily, its more a common byproduct. He uses that as a tool to try to get at some subconscious emotional truth. In some of his films and written works, that truth is about connection and loss, or success and identity. In this case, I think, he uses those techniques to talk about the fragility of time and about regret. He rarely paints a very uplifting picture, but as is pointed out in this film when speaking of pictures, “Anything an environment makes you feel is about you, not the environment.”
P.S. For those that haven’t seen it, Lee Chang-dongs’ film “Burning” would be an Amazing double feature alongside this.