Kinetta, 2005

Something of a hybrid between Tsai Ming-liang’s eccentric, temp morts snapshots of human idiosyncrasy crossed with the glacially paced visual abstraction of Sharunas Bartas (most notably, The Corridor and Few of Us) by way of Philippe Grandrieux’s murky, destabilized, and defocused gaze (in particular, Sombre), Yorgos Lanthimos creates a languid, elliptically fractured, and maddeningly opaque, yet strangely transfixing and, on rare occasion, even sublime meditation on ennui, desolation, and ritual in Kinetta. Ostensibly structured as a metafilm (a premise that echoes Tsai’s The River and The Wayward Cloud), the film follows the curious activities of a threadbare amateur film crew as they set out to re-enact episodes from recent murder cases for unspecified (and perhaps indeterminate) motives at a near empty, off-season seaside hotel: an emotionally troubled chambermaid who seems to be more consumed with deciphering the lives of the hotel guests by lingering in their vacated rooms and going through their toiletries and personal effects than in completing her tasks efficiently; a printing and photography reproduction shop worker who aspires to become a filmmaker even as he seems oblivious to practical notions of customer requirements and working deadlines; a plainclothes police officer who devotes more of his time transcribing the details of the murders for their re-enactment project than in the actual solving of the cases. Chronicling the film crew’s oppressive silence, introversion, and awkward interaction, Lanthimos captures the unarticulated despair behind their morbid obsession to create an incisive (if frustrating) exposition on loneliness, longing, and the human search for transitory connection.

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