Disturbing? Beautiful? Yes. But not in an abstractly exaggerated way. In a sweat meets mud, meets atmospheres, meets skin meets other skins way. A film that starts as intriguing, moves into the kafkaesque, wriths in a disconcerting expedition and ends with the cut of exhausted acceptance. This is a film all about entanglement, that laughs at the idea of means towards an end. Colonialism, class, slavery, marriage and empire coagulate together to express the alterity of a historical moment. However, one that shatters the complacency of those who have gained a little privilege in the present.
From a more-than-human perspective clothing, documents, horses, fishes, brandy, disease, chairs, body parts and a long litany of nonhumans are not forced as agents upon the story, but are clearly entangled parts of assemblages of which the human ego is but one part dreaming. Every tree, hat, spider and person is present, even when only a voice, blurred or blind.
This is capacity to have leading charcters but keep the assemblage present is reflected in both the sound and sight of the film, which never feels liking its hiding its own setup nor revelling in its orchestration. That really has nothing to do with it. Its all surreally fucking real, but another time viscerally present as a film. There is no hylomorphic perspective from its director.
There is no human story or abstract human condition. There is the literality of the lived and dying condition and all its pains and beauties. There are many fragments of various characters, entangled around the frozen protagonist. There are histories of assemblages of participants with intermeshing ontologies structured with nightmares and dreams that ask what the character of you what your protagonist’s actions would be.
This film is a lesson in working with reality, not the lies of administrated progress that lead you to being frozen in the headlights of hope. Do I agree? Not for all of us, but definitely for many of us. It is a critical lesson worth proper consideration that is rarely found in cinema. As the film’s protagonist notes:
“I am doing for you what no one did for me… I’m saying no to your hopes”
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