Amer (2009) – Faceless Wordless Passion

In 1963, the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman concluded what has become known as the Trilogy of Faith.  Prior to this trilogy, many of Bergman’s films tended to revolve around questions of religion and faith as their characters struggled to find meaning in the meaningless void of life.  Paradoxically, the Trilogy of Faith marked a departure in Bergman’s filmmaking as it displayed an interest not in God but in people. In Through a Glass Darkly (1961) and Winter Light (1962), Bergman explored the roots of religious faith and how that faith might be lost.  In The Silence (1963), Bergman examined a world characterised only by absence; absence of God, absence of faith and absence of speech.  As Bergman himself put it:

“These three films deal with reduction. Through a Glass Darkly – conquered certainty. Winter Light – penetrated certainty. The Silence – God’s silence – the negative imprint. Therefore, they constitute a trilogy.”

What Bergman found when he stripped away God and faith was a world of passion and turmoil, a world in which nobody speaks but everyone yearns.  The Silence is a remarkable film in that it manages to be both intensely psychological and almost entirely free of dialogue. Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer marks a return to Bergman’s silent realm of desire, passion, alienation and horror.

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REVIEW : Before I Forget (2007)

It is difficult for me to articulate quite why it is that I adore Jacques Nolot’s Avant Que J’Oublie (2007), or Before I Forget as it is known to English speakers.  Ostensibly your typical French drama about middle class angst, alienation and spiritual decay, the film deals with an ageing gay man who looks back over his life with considerable bitterness as he considers all the things he lost and all the things he failed to gain.  However, while filled with negativity about his own past, the central character Pierre (played by Nolot) is gripped by terror when he thinks about the future as his health dwindles, his sex drive sputters and his days come to be consumed by talk of money, food and how he will most likely die alone.  There are hundreds of films that deal in exactly this kind of bourgeois malaise and many of them leave me completely cold. What makes Nolot’s films so special is that, unlike many dramas that aim for the universality of human emotions while achieving only the generic, Nolot’s films are specific.  They carry the specificity that comes only from the autobiographical and it is the candour with which Nolot describes his life that makes his films so uncomfortable and yet so utterly compelling.

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