Like an Israeli predecessor to Gray’s Two Lovers. The same actor, Moni Moshonov, even plays the father in both films and the protagonist shares that same man-child quality that Phoenix brings to the Gray film. The film starts off as a dark comedy examining the rituals and dynamics that characterize the setting up of an arranged marriage. But soon, it becomes far more dramatic as it shifts to a well-to-do, conservative Israeli family’s reaction to their son’s love affair with an older divorced woman. Koshashvili is less interested in the outcome which he seems to view as almost inevitable and focuses instead the mechanics of how social norms get exerted. The film is pretty much just a sequence of set-pieces that observe the power play between these characters. Really good and heartbreaking.
I guess I like Larrain best when he keeps the dark macabre stuff simmering right beneath the surface as opposed to bringing them front and center. I love the quietly off-kilter tone that’s common to both Tony Manero and Post Mortem. This one, however, is pitched at a much more overtly dramatic register right off the bat and plays out more like an operatic horror film with none of the humor of those other two films. Which could work obviously but even these hyper-dramatic elements just fall flat.
It starts off promising and I really latched on to this story of this genius musician who feels compelled to compose this magnum opus, this one creation that has the burden of carrying all the horror and pain of a life marred by tragedy. However, it ends up digressing a fair bit from this basic conceit. The whole middle section in the insane asylum is really strange and in parts, I almost felt like Larrain just turned his camera towards Alfredo Castro hoping he’d perform his usual magic. And while Alfredo Castro is great in this film as well, it’s not clear what purpose his character serves in the film and somewhere along the way, he literally goes away.
The whole idea of cheap imitation / attempt at recapturing the magic of a great artist that drives a lot of Tony Manero is present in this film as well but muddled because the focus really is on the actual artist (vs. the cheap imitator) and his own personal demons. So, in the third act, when Larrain tries to tie these things up, the whole thing just turns into a confused mess. The climactic scene on the raft is just laughably terrible.
He clearly got a lot better at this film stuff.