Monday, 20 April 2015

REVIEW - A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE (ROY ANDERSSON)


Roy Andersson does not need to make it as painfully obvious as he does in A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, though it's refreshing to see a filmmaker deploy such frank self-awareness. If the accessible artsiness he generously infuses his films with is at least tempered by the sensation that even Andersson himself is not taking any of this seriously, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch might mark breaking point for that sensation - imbued with so pointed an allegorical meaning, the film is less enjoyable, more didactic than he has devised before. And the joke's wearing thin - it gets by on the sheer heft of its humour, mitigating the transparency of Andersson's conceit, but by now it's old hat, and one may crave something new from this most specific, stylised of filmmakers. That style is employed here in full force, and it's almost as beguiling as ever, with the pallid palette of faded lime greens and chartreuse, the stark lighting, the angularity of all these straight lines and flat surfaces. It's an immensely expressive mise-en-scene, even if Andersson is a touch too enamoured with it himself. What will forever mark the most effective tools he has for manoeuvring within such strict compositions are the tilts into unexpected territory, and you'll be surprised by what memorable results are engendered through use of simple images and sounds that seem wholly organic to this film's style, yet are revealed to represent quaint, poignant little aberrations. In truth, it's the occasional surrender to convention, that which this film purports to reject, that cuts deepest; Andersson continues to find comfort in discomfort, and vice versa, and so do we - he needs to abandon his comfort zone and explore further possibilities. For such a master artist, this ought to be a fruitful exploration indeed. I have my fingers crossed for the next film.