Tuesday, 21 July 2015

REVIEW - GOODNIGHT MOMMY (SEVERIN FIALA AND VERONIKA FRANZ)


Another day, another piece of Austrian provocation. It's less alarming how few get the joke than it is how many get it and take umbrage at it. Goodnight Mommy has less to say about the twisted human construction of culture than its contemporaries, even as it seeks to mask its true intentions behind suggestively pristine production design, perfection as still as the surface of a lake, black as the night in Martin Gschlacht's stunning cinematography. Read into and out of Goodnight Mommy all you like, it's the film's internal logic, its application of its own meanings onto itself that are so fascinating, and so provocative. Less substance, more style from Ulrich Seidl's fucked-up family, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, whose style is in service of a deceptively straightforward yet deep fairytale, rendered narratively abstruse by their immaculate technique. Whether obscure or just obscured, complex or clear, the clues they leave in their masterful mise-en-scene in turn render the film equally beguiling and frightening. One appreciates the artistry and the intelligence, while fearing what these qualities may themselves be masking. Indeed, this is an indescribably unsettling film, in part due to its avoidance of description - you know you're afraid, but you're not sure of what exactly. I know what I was afraid of, at least, and I'll thank Fiala and Franz to rein in their reliance on bugs next time, lest I suffer a heart attack mid-film. Otherwise, I rather enjoyed being provoked and unsettled in Goodnight Mommy, a piece of technical brilliance more than anything else.