Tuesday, 10 August 2010


(Vimukthi Jayasundara; Sri Lanka/ France; 2009)

At first this film seemed to mine whats becoming a well-worn path – that of the contemplative, meditative film, often with a loosely-formed plot erring on the side of elusive or even non-existence, and usually involving a character endlessly walking, often through forests or large forbidding landscapes. Thus, I was initially a little skeptical, as the film seemed a little too contrived, aiming for lush, large, and epic images purely to provoke a 'wow' response. Although I would still say that Jaysundara is still guilty of sometimes presenting images for images-sake, on reflection there is unusual layer of complexity and depth to this intriguing film.

At face value, the film is the peripatetic wanderings of a man who in the first scene of the film appears to fall from the sky, into the sea. As he wanders, first through desolate and destroyed city streets, then through endless tracts of fields and forests, the presence of the chaos of war is ever-present and hangs over every moment like a dank fog. It is clear this protagonist is in the unusual position of belonging and not-belonging, of being between two worlds. Often he observes the chaos around him, other times he participates, often to perform brutal acts without apparent reason. He vacillates between benign omniscient observer, to innocent participant, to villain, then back again, all in a few moments. There is a kind of shock in presenting this character between two worlds, as the viewer is also left in a kind of limbo, unable to either identify or disengage with the protagonist. Ultimately it makes one think of the state we live in now, where we feel engaged with the hubbub of the world yet distant and disaffected by global events.

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