Written and directed by Fred Kelemen
December 9 through 22, Anthology Film Archives
Brooding existentialist Fred Kelemen goes to Latvia for his new film, a starkly black-and-white parable dripping with unspoken regrets and submerged in the ambient sturm und drang of distant factory roar. A mopey archive worker (Egons Dombrovskis) strolls by a suicidal woman on a night bridge and does nothinguntil after she jumps, when he is compelled to follow her trail backwards (letters, photos, her boyfriend) and assuage his own guilt. Consider it a thumbnail remake of Blow-Up by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, except Kelemen is not up to something as mundane as solving a mystery. The agenda here, implicit in the shadowy corridors, moments of deep thought, and failures at human connection, is all about loneliness, memory, morality: the whole damn thing, in 80 somber minutes. Although a long-take contemporary of Bela Tarr, Kelemen is no showboater; Krisana's wind-beaten soundtrack is more effusive than its high-contrast visuals. The film is so despairing it becomes a smidgeon absurduntil the twist ending, which seems even more so. Still, godless misery may have no better reflective landscape in the new century than the ex-Soviet wastelands, cluttered with industrial rejectamenta and lost without even oppression to give it purpose.