I will be the first to admit that I like some strange films. There have been times when I’ve sit down to show a friend a film that I love and twenty minutes later they are shooting me “what the hell is wrong with you” look. Anti-Christ and Melancholia spring to mind straight away and if I remember correctly I think one of my friends actually walked out of Elephant when I took them to the cinema to see that. So when I say a film is too weird even for me – you better bloody believe that it is strange.
Now I really tried to like director Roy Andersson’s (A Swedish Love Story) new film About Endlessness but even I couldn’t get my head around it. Somebody that I have already tried to talk to about the film instantly threw back at me “well I bet you didn’t like his other films.” That is not true I think I also created some ire with my friends when I told them that I had no issues with and kind of enjoyed A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence. The difference is that film worked, About Endlessness does not.
With About Endlessness Andersson enters the realm of auteur filmmakers has he tries to create a film that eighty minutes of short films joined together with the supposed common theme of endlessness – that link is as obscure as the film is though. What Andersson doesn’t seem to realise is that the random short films with a voice over declaring “I saw a woman…” or “I saw a man…” just doesn’t do enough to hold the audience’s attention.
The sad thing about the film though is that at times it does work. The scenes depicting a Priest (Martin Serner ) losing his faith in God and therefore losing his will to live are one of the few highlights of the film. Having such a brilliant idea for a the plot of a film hidden away in an obscure film like About Endlessness almost seems like some kind of cinematic crime that Andersson should be strung-up for.
The only other highlights during the film for me were the beautiful scenes of a man and woman flying high above a city that has been destroyed by war and a sombre scene of an endless line of soldiers being marched to a prison camp. Both were beautifully filmed and truly surreal but they would have been more at home as part of an art instillation at somewhere like MONA rather than in a film screening in a cinema.
Roy Andersson is normally a filmmaker that I am excited to see the work of but About Endlessness pushes the boundaries of cinema a little too far. It is hard to see what kind of audience this film would be enjoyed by and sadly this seems like a wasted effort all round.