When camera pans the dark alleys of emotions

When camera pans the dark alleys of emotions
Alain Resnais, the 91-year-old French master, has always introduced unconventional narrative structures in his films, starting from Hiroshima Mon Amour. His new film, Life of Riley, an adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s play of the same name, is no exception either.

The old sweethearts of the theatre actor George Riley — Kathryn and Tamara — would like to be with terminally ill Riley when he goes on a vacation. But Riley charms Tamara’s teenaged daughter to give him company during this trip. The narrative is interwoven between rehearsals for a play by the amateur theatre group and the interactions of Colin and Kathryn, Tamara and Jack and Monica and Simeon and is designed like a stage play, with the sets providing stage effects. Something like a ‘filmed theatre’. Resnais would like to call this ‘breaking down the walls between film and theater and thus ending up totally free’.

We do not see George in any frame. But he permeates the whole film and it revolves around him. The film also celebrates the joie de vivre, even in the face of awaiting death.

The Chinese film Black Coal, Thin Ice by Diao Yinan is a slow paced murder mystery and detective thriller rolled into one. Body parts appear in the coal loads of various factories on the same day. The police could not solve the case. This is repeated again. The ice skating shoes found at the crime scenes link the victims. The investigation progresses methodically. The film ends on a ridiculously hilarious note.

The Greek film Stratos by Yannis Economides is a portrait of hired killer by day and a baker at night. The killer devotes his entire life to free Leonidas, his imprisoned mentor who once saved him from certain death, by busting jail. He uses money from hit jobs to dig a tunnel to the prison cell. But fate, as usual, has other plans.

To Economides the film is a reflection of how morality and personal boundaries merge in a dark and inhumane world. “The film, which takes the form of a Mediterranean film noir, is essentially nothing but Stratos‘s internal journey into his own soul and into a disintegrating society.”

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