IFFBoston: Kinetta

I very much admire the intentions of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinetta, but unfortunately the camerawork was a little too “kinetta” for me to really enjoy the experience. I was looking away for about 85% of the film to tame the shakycam-induced nausea that is so prevalent these days in indie film. I really hope that trend stops someday. Either my stomach getting stronger or the shakycam stopping, either would be fine. But either is equally unlikely.




Nausea aside, it was a beautiful and bizarre film, slow and nearly no dialogue other than the scripted stage directions of the man orchestrating the re-enacted murder scenes. The film unfolds at a glacial pace, revealing bits of the isolated lives of the three characters–a maid at the off-season seaside resort which serves as the location for the re-enactments, a policeman who supplies the scripts for the murders from the crimes he investigates, and a photographer who takes passport photos and aspires to be a filmmaker–just barely giving you an impression of who they are and why they might be participating in these bizarre rituals.

The sparse (really nearly non-existant) dialogue dramatizes the characters’ isolation, especially when they are in the presence of others–whatever words are spoken end up sounding useless and futile, like the cries of a person falling off a cliff. The only source of anything resembling intimacy and connection comes in the form of touch, when the characters are acting out murder scenes. They cannot face each other in normal situations–the girl hides in the bathroom when the photographer delivers shoes she is to wear for a beach murder scene–but the way they grapple with each other with faux violence becomes at times like an awkward dance, at times a very satisfying (for the viewer) release of their excruciating longing and isolation. None of the scenes are of sexual crimes, but their re-enactments take on sexual overtones; when the maid practices her scenes alone, it is reminiscent of masturbation. The film reminds me of Bresson’s Pickpocket in this way, especially in that film’s beautifully choreographed and strangely intimate and tactile scenes of the title character teaching a protegee how to get close to strangers and lift their wallets. Like in Kinetta, these practiced crimes are the only intimacy in the film, and itself a kind of faux intimacy, an intimacy by proxy.

The silence also heightens the effect of the images and sound. The crackling of feet walking on gravel, the clinking of dishes, the sound of a prostitute’s hair slapping across a man’s chest. Certain scenes are beautifully impressionistic–in one scene, we suddenly have loud swooping ballroom dance music on the soundtrack and we see an extreme closeup, out of focus, of what looks like part of the back of a woman’s head with the ocean in the distance, sparkling with light. Eventually the film cuts back to silence and a long shot of our hotel maid, sweeping the floor and listening to this music with headphones, lost in her own world, a world we just glimpsed in the blurry ocean shot.

I could go on for days about this film, and I realize more about it even as I write. It’s a film that stays with you and gets richer over time, and I encourage you to see it. If your stomach can handle the shakycam, that is.

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