A gorgeous-looking film about various people in the past and present.
“About Endlessness,” the new Swedish drama from director Roy Andersson, is told from the perspectives of a young woman, who tells the audience about the characters she views in her travels in the past and present. Each scene is beautifully photographed by Gergely Palos-most of them are filmed in single shots, and painted with a gloomy tone. Matter of fact, the movie is gloomy, because the characters in it either have issues of their own, just go about their lives, or just do random, every day routines.
I’m sure the movie has its own perspectives on what the meaning of it all is, but from my side, I feel as though if someone was commuting, and witnesses and studies different people. In this case, it’s a woman, but the real question is whether or not she’s an angel. Not every story gets their basis or clear understandings, but there are those who stick out and explode.
- When a middle-aged priest (Martin Serner) loses faith in God, he has a nightmare of being crucified in a modern day style of how it happened to Jesus.
- When a young man loses his legs in a landmine, he performs the mandolin at a local train station.
- When a man (Jan-Eje Ferling) says hi to Sverker Olsson, the guy he hurt in high school, he gets ignored by him, and acknowledges that Olsson has accomplished more things in life than he did.
- Two parents lose their son in a war, and tidy up his tombstone.
- A man attacks his wife in public for talking to another man, and wants to know if she loves him or not.
- Adolf Hitler realizes his wolf domination plans would foil.
- A grouchy dentist tries to help fix a man’s toothache, but he yelps every time he drills.
- And there’s a fantasy sequence of two lovers embracing each other while levitating over a city in ruins.
Other short stories involve dancing, dates, a man crying on a bus, a defeated army marching to POW camp, a man trying to fixing his car, and a father tying his little girl’s shoes in the rain en route to a birthday party. And out of all these observations on life, the priest is the one who appears in most of the movie. He has nightmares, goes to his psychiatrist, and weeps about not having faith. Serner is profoundly excellent and emotionally complex in this role.
“About Endlessness” is a short film-running for 78 minutes. It makes sense for that length, because of the various characters who either come and go or become interposing subjects, and there are a lot of interesting people. As time goes on, people have made their choices and habits, and regret them. It’s full of beauty and turmoil, and Andersson presents them in some of the most ambitious and sentimental ways.
About the fantasy sequence, it looks like a work of art. You think it’s some kind of marvelous painting, at first, but then you see the reality and humanity of it. How often do we get to see foreign films with a couple floating in the air over a city? Not often, so whether we understand it or not, we should still be dazzled by the art direction and complexity of it. And it’s also featured on the poster, so it’s another thing that makes sense.
Seeing the scope of “About Endlessness” is like seeing time transcend from one truth to the next, and uses the random people as prime examples of that.
In Select Theaters and On Demand This Friday