From the first moment we see Tonka, she is already a tainted woman, her reputation scuppered by her brothel connections, and as such it is difficult to know which part of her story we are to learn from. If anything, the film appears to tell us, as in Mikio Naruse’s later Morning’s Tree-Lined Street, that the bright lights of the city are a misleading augury. The scenes with Tonka in the countryside are beautiful, pleasant, summery – when the story returns to the city however, we are greeted by nocturnal shadows and noxious smoke. Slovenian actress Ita Rina, best known for her role in Erotikon, does a great job of portraying the protagonist trapped in the evil shadows of Prague. Director Karl Anton employs tropes of German Expressionism and French Impressionism in his visual arsenal, creating a melodrama with surprising emotional reach.
Friday, 25 February 2011
Unapologetically experimental in his storytelling, Tahimik works without any strong semblance of rhythm or pace – pieces of music begin and then are abruptly stopped before the next scene. Dubbing is similarly amateurish, with Tahimik’s character providing a partly diegetic commentary which brings to mind underground filmmakers. This is not to simplify Tahimik’s intellectual goal – if anything, the uneven shooting style and use of bricolage clarify his point, implying that his cinematic voice is an imbalanced compromise as a result of colonialism. Tahimik makes frequent use of visual and verbal puns – the motif of chewing gum plays a metaphorical role, painting the American influence as a fleeting fancy. Perfumed Nightmare lacks the rigour of other post-colonial films such as Soleil Ô, but the personal angle makes this film all the more charming.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
The strength in the film is in not revealing the differences between Martha and Rukundo immediately – on face value, the two are able to get along without issue. Themes of unity prevail throughout the film, although often these are presented as illusions, and the open ending serves only to suggest that there are still repercussions of discrimination. The film is utterly absorbing at moments – some great acting in the scene where Rukundo’s family express their distrust of Tutsi makes for compelling viewing – but there are several flaws which keep the film from achieving its goal fully. Martha and Rukundo’s relationship happens quicker than the audience can fathom, and the film suffers from a few distracting technical shortcomings. Nonetheless, A Love Letter To My Country has great intentions and hopefully augurs well for the Rwandan film industry.