In his first feature, Lars von Trier creates a scorched metaphysical purgatory called Europe, where a policeman’s methodical system of retracing the steps of a killer slowly deteriorates his own sense of identity. MELANCHOLIA and BREAKING THE WAVES will continue to be the von Trier movies I return to for emotional heft, but his surreal take on noir is riveting.
This epic is bursting with such emotion the camera starts to shake. Solás portrays three periods of revolution in Cuba through three young women named Lucía. When each respective uprising fails to live up to its ideals, all three vibrantly spontaneous Lucías (Raquel Revuelta in 1895, Eslinda Núñez in 1932, and Adela Legrá in 196-?) have a powerfully different response to that injustice.
Nina Hoss brings churning depth to the role of a Holocaust survivor whose facial reconstructive surgery after the war leaves her unrecognizable to her own husband. Silently begging the man she loves to see her, while pushing down fears he may have been responsible for her capture, she represents a people unable to return to the moment before their country betrayed them.
In the time of Zoom Theatre, I have a special appreciation for the magic trick of taking a play set entirely in a kitchen and expanding it for the camera without letting the urgency dissipate. These caged animals still feel trapped but not stagebound, as Sjöberg’s lyrical direction allows their past traumas to seep through the walls, bringing their competing need to transcend their class and sex into stark relief.
The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.