5 Jun 2020

The Scenic Route (Mark Rappaport, 1978)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

The past and the present of cinema seem to converge in Mark Rappaport's romantic (melo)drama which melds narration and dialogues delivered in a wry, deadpan manner, mythologized banalities of everyday life(lessness) and dreams inspired by pieces of classical art to a great surreal effect, with the film's forte lying in the singularity of its author's vision. A love triangle between two sisters (Estelle and Lena) and a man (Paul) plays out in a hypnotizing series of almost static, yet meticulously composed tableaux vivants, as the decorative wallpapers change in a blink of an eye, without any explanation, or completely disappear to reveal a forest, just because one of the heroines is in a desperate need for a change of scenery. Strong yet understated feelings of love, anger, desire, jealousy and resentment are 'vulgarly' verbalized, concealed in actors' micro-expressions and/or depicted in a constant interplay between real and imagined, both shrouded in layers of filmic artifice. Ultimately, it is both the director's and his characters obsession - embodied in a 19th century-styled engraving - that dominates The Scenic Route

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