The Opaque, Pretentious Exhibition is an Airy Portrait of a Fractured Relationship


Less subtle and enigmatic than opaque and off-putting, Exhibition details the disconnection felt by married artists know only as D (Viviane Albertine) and H (Liam Gillick) after they decide to sell their modernist London house.

Despite that being the nominal plot point around which the rest of writer-director Joanna Hogg’s film revolves, it’s as cursorily handled as the rest of the couple’s supposedly thorny issues.

Those problems are never explicitly articulated but rather suggested in scene after scene of the two meeting with a realtor (Tom Hiddleston) and awkwardly communicating over intercom (primarily so H can ask D to come upstairs for sex), as well as ones in which D puts on high heels and douses herself in oil before masturbating in bed, or strips in front of blinds-covered windows, or obliquely refers to some long-past crisis.

And don’t forget the film’s three sequences (one at the beginning, middle, and end) in which D is seen lying down in a hooded sweatshirt, her body pressed up against a window or wrapped around a rock or wall corner.

Amid such tediously faux-meaningful sights, director Hogg regularly cuts to silent shots of vegetation blowing in the wind — an apt image for a film that’s all airy, abstract pretentiousness.