18 March 2010

The Collectress / Kolekcioniere (Kristina Buozyte, 2008, Lithuania)

The Collectress, the director's MFA graduation project, is the winner of Lithuania's Silver Crane award for best feature film. It's about a woman who goes a little nutty after her father's death. There's something odd about his death but whatever the exact circumstance around his death was remains a mystery. While giving a presentation on speech therapy she discovers she can only feel anything anymore when she's watching herself on video, or "record" as the less than perfect subtitles called it. She ends up hiring this guy to video tape her doing various deviant and/or transgressive acts. Watching this movie, I definitely thought of Joan Didion's line about the dream teaching the dreamers how to live, because it seemed like any catharsis or resolution in the film should come from identifying with a mediated version of herself. Or something. Videodrome also came to mind a few times but I wonder if I would have thought of it some much if every description I read of it beforehand hadn't mentioned it. I don't know, it seemed to me there was something very 'Video made flesh' about the whole thing. It seemed like a watered down blend of David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and the grim Romanian film of your choice. I didn't get why this sort of mystery is set up regarding her father and then it's never dealt with or revealed. The character is frequently unsympathetic but it's in this way where you might identify her with the modern condition or what-have-you. I kind of agree with the review in Variety that the thing is too drawn out with repetitions of events, first as she's doing them and then as she's watching them. I think this is actually handled well in some instances but less well in others. It felt too long in some parts, despite that it's less than an hour and a half, and I think it could have used more meat, and more depth. I think the premise could be developed into a stronger film. It's interesting as it is and it's impressive as a grad school project but I find myself wanting more from it. C

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