Vancouver International Film Festival
This year's Vancouver International Film Festival ran from September 27th to October 12th, and among the films at the festival were a refreshing number of foreign films, from countries we rarely hear from in Vancouver. Sarah Caufield, host of the No Show, watched some of these, including The Man from London, from Hungarian director Bela Tarr, and had this to say...
Dark and dreary. Beautiful. Three words that set the mood of The Man From London, a Hungarian gem in this year's Vancouver International Film Festival.
The night port guard witnesses a suitcase launched off a passenger boat, and a scuffle for it ensues, resulting in the drowning of one man. Curiosity gets the best of the guard, and he quietly fishes out the suitcase before the other party reaches it. Suddenly, the guard is rich in wet British Pounds, and he quietly continues his life mostly as it was -- his unhappy home life, his concern over his daughter's appearance in society. Though the film follows the mysterious story line of the search for "the man from London", there's as much effort spent (and just as little explanation given) on the misery of his family life. Tilda Swinton makes a surprising but moving appearance as his harried wife.
Rather than pushing through the story, The Man From London is made up of uncomfortably prolonged shots that follow the action as it happens – no jump cuts here! With lengthy shots that are more like portraits, it's the subtle nuances – the textures, the gazes, the different shades of grey, these are what truly make the film, the true purveyors of expression.
It's not exactly something that will have you rejoicing in the sunshine after it's over. In fact, after two hours of deep, dark shades of grey, you might have forgotten the sun exists at all. But though the visuals (and story) are bleak, it's done so in the most gorgeous fashion. And by the end of it, you truly learn to appreciate the subtleties of life, even without the exciting drama.
The Vancouver International Film Fest is now over, but look for The Man From London and other festival films to return to the Vancity Film Center, Pacific Cinematheque, and Tinseltown over the coming months.