Wednesday, 24 July 2013

REVIEW - JUST THE WIND


It is, as far as this film's internal narrative goes, a day in the life of three members of one Romany family. A text slide that opens Just the Wind, though, transforms these banal occurrences, and it becomes, perhaps, a day in the death. Or is it? The knot of tension as Benedek Fliegauf's film progresses is tied by this factual text, and tightened by adroit filmmaking that subtly builds the tone of anxiety scene by scene. The sound design, which Fliegauf is, directly, partly responsible for, is exceptional, with non-diegetic ambient sound combining with heightened atmospheric noise and minimal dialogue - these wide open spaces, overgrown green fields and forest suddenly so close, the bushes and long grass concealing an unseen threat, the stagnant air buzzing like tinnitus, the heat and dirt offering no respite from the silent fear that pervades this family's life, no matter how aware of it they may be. In response to the emotional concerns of this (semi-)true story, gone is Fliegauf's chilly ponderousness, but the relative absence of obsessively long, languorous takes doesn't diminish the human detail therein. He's observing reality, rather than creating it, and he has an exquisite style of detached intimacy: the camera never feels like another figure in this reality, yet its intrusion is insisted upon, as it follows the actors (whose performances never betray any evidence of being such) through these rural lanes, or lingers on their faces in close-up, drinking in their obliviousness. We feel how near danger truly is to them, and we see how little they know it. Fliegauf's attention to mood is absolute, and he has thus made a tonally perfect film. The ending is not frustratingly ambiguous, it's tantalisingly ambiguous.