Film review: ‘ABOUT ENDLESSNESS’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

From Koyaanisqatsi to Holy Motors, cinema has often sought to tell stories through bizarre and perplexing images rather than a coherent narrative. This approach usually delights devotees of the avant garde and the black skivvy and enrages those who prefer their films have a clear storyline, a giant robot and a Dwayne Johnson or two.

The latest film from Swedish director Roy Anderson who gave us 2014’s A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting On Existence is one such cinematic brain-boggler.  A collection of oddball vignettes, narrated by an unseen woman and depicting confronting historical moments and everyday people behaving strangely, this film is probably not going to be used as a pre-season motivation and bonding experience for AFL teams.

About Endlessness does not follow a narrative thread but instead jumps from one seemingly unrelated sequence to another.  We see a drunken man spilling wine everywhere in a restaurant, parents tending to their son’s grave, a woman staring out an office window, a priest carrying a huge cross through the streets of an ordinary town while being beaten by locals, an embracing couple seemingly flying through the air over the skeletal remains of a bombed-out city, three young women walking past a café and spontaneously launching into a dance routine and just to mix it up, Hitler in his last days in the bunker as well as a multitude of other equally incongruous scenes.  There’s a smattering of obtuse dialogue in these sequences and everything is awash in a sickly grey pallour.

Exactly what it all means isn’t entirely clear but thematic links do emerge regarding urban alienation, war, death, faith and identity.  Amid all the concerted strangeness Anderson weaves in threads of humour which suggest he’s watched a few Monty Python films in his time.  There’s also some very confronting scenes revolving around the idea of male entitlement and violence toward women which rupture the film’s otherwise torpid mood.

With striking compositions that evoke the creepy meticulous style of Stanley Kubrik, the deliberate artificiality and quirkiness of Jacques Tati and at times the visual detail of a painting, this film is above all a fascinating work of direction by Anderson and cinematography by Gergely Pálos.

It certainly won’t please everyone but those prepared to surrender to this enigmatic film’s artistic charms will be rewarded.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2

Genre: Arthhouse/ drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Roy Anderson.

Release date: 4th Mar 2021.

Running time: 78 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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