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Posted by martinteller on December 30, 2011

Structurally, I was reminded a lot of The Vertical Ray of the Sun.  Loose vignettes about three sisters (and a brother who’s kind of on the periphery) and their relationship issues.  But of course, it’s set in London and Winterbottom goes for a very different style than Tran’s languid rhythms.  The film is grainy, mostly handheld camera, that gives it a voyeuristic and often claustrophobic feel, which is occasionally punctured by some stylistic flourish like slo-mo.  The visuals are actually a bit off-putting at times but sometimes it’s to highlight the loneliness or ugliness of life.

However, the film doesn’t wallow in misery.  There are highs and lows… some characters are better at dealing with problems than others, but everyone muddles through and tries to find their balance.  Some do despicable things and we’re not asked to forgive them, but we are asked to realize that there’s more to them.  By the end, there is a sense of contentment despite the knowledge that not all problems are solved, and new ones will surely arise.

The three central performances are quite good, although naturally I would have liked to see more of Shirley Henderson.  I couldn’t find fault with any of the other actors, either.  Winterbottom also lets the camera wander, including strangers and passersby in the mix, any one of whom could be a connection to our protagonists.  Indeed, it’s a while before we’re fully aware of who the protagonists are and their relationships to each other.  It’s a bit frustrating at first before you have your footing, but it’s a reminder that any of these people and their stories are equally significant.  I should also mention Michael Nyman’s glorious score as well as the skillful use of diegetic music.

I was generally engaged throughout the film, although I wish there had been a few more transcendent scenes where it really clicked with me.  Nonetheless, it’s an excellent movie that explores our inner turmoil, need for connections, and precious moments of joy.  Rating: Very Good


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