‘Music’ Review: German Auteur Angela Schanelec’s Elegant if Highly Enigmatic Modern Myth – Hollywood Reporter

Author, director and editor Angela Schanelec started making films within the early nineties, increase a decent physique of labor as one of many key members of the Berlin College of arthouse auteurs based mostly out of Germany’s capital. But it surely wasn’t till her final function, I Was at Residence, However…, that the 61-year-old filmmaker lastly obtained recognition within the U.S., together with a full retrospective at Lincoln Middle that befell in 2020.

Residence was a tough by way of rewarding watch, enigmatically telling the story of a household getting previous the untimely dying of a father. Schanelec’s newest movie, Music, could show much more puzzling for audiences, though it’s full of among the director’s signature prospers: superbly composed lengthy pictures; an elliptical narrative that jumps forward in time with out warning; quietly contained performances that focus extra on gesture than dialogue; and a surgically exact use of sound and music.

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Whistles its personal tune.

Venue: Berlin Movie Competition (Competitors)
Solid: Aliocha Schneider, Agathe Bontizer, Marisha Triantafyllidou, Argyris Xafis, Frida Tarana, Ninel Skrzypczyk
Director, screenwriter: Angela Schanelec

1 hour 48 minutes

Whereas Residence walked away with Berlin’s Silver Bear award in 2019, it’s laborious to see Music doing the identical, even when it’s going to most likely attraction to Schanelec’s admirers. It premieres within the pageant’s principal competitors alongside works by fellow Berliner Schuler members Christian Petzold (Afire) and Christoph Hochhäusler (Until the Finish of the Night time).

“Freely impressed by the Oedipus fable” per the credit — “freely” being the important thing phrase right here — the movie is about principally in Greece at an unspecified time that appears just like the Seventies or ‘80s. However as time itself is at all times slightly elusive in Schanelec’s work, it’s laborious to say when precisely the story is happening, or for the way lengthy sure occasions are occurring.

Additionally attribute of Schanelec’s films is using offscreen house, with main occasions occurring throughout ellipses or just away from the digital camera. Being aware of the story of Oedipus gained’t be of a lot assist right here, both. On this model the tragic hero has been renamed Jon (Aliocha Schneider), whereas his love curiosity is not his personal mom Jocasta, as per the Sophocles play, however a jail guard named Iro (Agathe Bonitzer).

The 2 first meet after Jon’s been incarcerated for by chance killing a younger man whereas on trip together with his pals, in an artfully filmed sequence set in opposition to the Aegean sea. Teaming up once more with cinematographer Ivan Markovic, Schanelec captures the type of landscapes one imagines the primary Greek tragedies have been staged in, as if she have been looking for inspiration within the terroir rather more than within the precise textual content.

Jon and Iro fall in love, and, earlier than it — actually, it’s laborious to know when something truly occurs within the movie — he’s out of jail and dwelling together with his mother and father, his spouse and their new child daughter, Phoebe (performed by Frida Tarana, later by Ninel Skrzypczyk). Home bliss, with hassle effervescent simply beneath the floor, is one thing Schanelec has depicted in a lot of her films, and we see the lives of Jon and Iro start to unravel as a accident comes again to hang-out them.

It’s laborious to spoil a narrative whose plot shall be impenetrable to many viewers, although it’s essential to say that the movie’s final part takes place in Berlin, the place Jon, who does appear to be shedding his sight like Oedipus, has develop into a profitable musician. The closing reels function a few superbly rendered studio performances during which Schneider interprets songs by Canadian artist Doug Teilli, delivering the music promised by the title, and rather more of an upbeat ending than the basic tragedy.

The title Music additionally refers extra usually to what Schanelec was looking for out within the unique fable, which is the musical resonances she creates between the completely different characters, in addition to between the characters they usually locations they inhabit. Her movie is full of silences or semi-silences the place no one speaks for lengthy intervals, and but there’s music to these moments too, as if individuals have been interacting merely by sharing the identical house.

Nonetheless, what makes her newest work significantly laborious to know, although by no means disagreeable to observe, is the mixture of fable with a banal, quotidian realism that’s too fleeting to understand. Whereas Schanelec’s earlier films centered, for essentially the most half, on the lives of German households or children, right here we’re by no means positive who Jon and Iro are, or why they’re performed by a pair of French actors talking fluent Greek.

In that sense, Music appears to be extra of a tribute to the director’s distinctive aesthetic — her specialised use of picture and sound, of character and panorama — than something resembling a story, even when there are bits and items of story scattered all through. It’s the celebration of a imaginative and prescient Schanelec has meticulously honed over the previous three a long time, like a late sonata by a composer who has totally come into their voice.

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