Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Parabellum by Lukas Valenta Rinner

I love movies that raise more questions than they answer. If I walk out of a film with a satisfied, resolved sense that all is right with the world, then chances are, I will simply forget the movie unless there is something very special about it. But yesterday at MWFF, I saw the former kind of film: one that caused a whole host of questions. It was an Argentine/Uruguayan/Austrian film called Parabellum.

The film is odd. Very odd. It opens in Buenos Aires where an office worker at first seems to be going through his day but very soon it becomes clear that he's getting ready to move or leave. He gets rid of his cat, removes stuff from his office. There is no conversation about this. No voiceover. Just a man's actions that we are supposed to interpret. Cut to the woods and a kind of resort full of other people from the city: everyone is given a uniform and various options for courses: water survival, combat, guns and shooting, etc.

It turns out that the resort is a survival camp and all these city people are training for kind of impending doom or apocalypse. This sense of tension infects the movie, you're waiting for something to happen...meanwhile, rockets or missiles or maybe asteroids keep flying through the sky and exploding somewhere in the distance.
Gorgeous Argentine countryside is a main character

The aspect of this film which is hard to get your head around is the fact that there is very little dialogue: the characters are almost like robots, doing what they're told to do with no emotion whatsoever. There are no characters to hang your expectations onto.

But these facts really make you think about what it is to see a movie: how the emotional component of a film is really key to connecting with the audience. Emotion is almost the starting point of any film. But not here. No characters. No emotion. One almost asks oneself if this is even a film?! Of course, it is, but it's unlike any film I've ever seen.

As I walked out, I just kept asking myself: what just happened? What was that about? What did that all mean?!

Parabellum is the first feature film by Austrian director Lukas Valenta Rinner. Unfortunately, the film only plays once more Tuesday, September 1 at 11:30am...

I love film festivals! At work this week so limited time but I'm trying to squeeze in as many as I can.

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