Review: Eli, Eli Lema Sabachtani? (2005)

Directed by:
Cast: ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

This film is not for everyone. Many people will hate it. Nonetheless, it is a fairly strong film that will appeal to those of a thoughtful nature, particularly if they also know a bit about New Music.

This one actually reminds me quite strongly of many Taiwanese films, although for me this was more successful in achieving what they set out to achieve. There’s little dialogue, little action, and a very meagre plot, but it still managed to put me in a contemplative frame of mind. Possibly because the characters were reasonably well-sketched out, or possibly merely because it featured Asano, and I’d watch that man read the phone book to himself. Mind you, I did walk out of Cafe Lumiere half-way through, so there are limits to my Asano-fixation.

Where the film loses focus, it’s largely because of the extremely long musical interludes. The construction of a whoopy whirring thing out of an electric motor, some vacuum cleaner tubes, and assorted bits of wire, was intriguing, but when the production of odd sounds and dissonances continues ad infinitum we get a tad bored. Well, quite bored, actually. Very bored. And irritated.

I was also a bit disappointed with the depiction of depression as exemplified in the young girl. To my eyes, she came across as a sulky, spoiled brat, and the urge to give her a good shake and send her to bed without her supper was strong. Perhaps I’m biased, because I’ve had a long and intimate aquaintance with depression: whatever the case, the girl just didn’t cut it. Particularly as the representative of a malady that was supposedly sweeping the world and scything people down at a prodigious rate.

This was a pity, because the theme began so well: we’re introduced to the film, and the theme, in a long walk over dunes to a ramshackle tent, where a family lies dead, recently and bloodily. As windblown sand rasps across the landscape, our two main characters, faceless in gas masks and goggles, patiently and systematically collect any items that might be cajoled into producing sound. This scene, completely wordless, eloquently describes a civilisation in collapse: it’s just a shame that this scene, like so many others, went on too long.

Overall, I’d have to say that this film is a partial success that could have been improved markedly by some stringent editing.

5 whirring vacuum cleaner tubes out of 10.
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