☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
An old bridge hangs in the midst of the woods. Its rusted, ramshackle construction is repaired by an engineer (Frantz Herman) who lives in a small nearby cabin. The vague images emerging in his recurring dream reveal a body submerged in the river, as well as an enigmatic light.
One night, he encounters a wounded woman (Cindy Rodrigues) on the bridge and helps her, only to find her gone the next morning. Doubts in what he has been doing so far begin to rise...
Leaving many 'whos', 'whys' and 'whats' unanswered, Christophe Leclaire tells or rather, shows an elliptical, metaphorical story (presumably) of transformation (if its title is any indication) with utmost economy. As methodical as his unnamed hero, he eschews dialogue in favor of the beautifully crafted visuals and hauntingly minimalist score, establishing a contemplative atmosphere so dense you can cut it with a knife.
Driven by the feelings of despair, loneliness, absurdity and existential dread, his promising (and puzzling) feature debut hypnotizes with both its refined aesthetics and measured pace that makes the time seem to stand still. With great meticulousness, Leclaire renders the most banal of actions as utterly enthralling and always finds a new angle to shoot the Sisyphean chores, alleviating their repetitiveness in the process.
In the dimly lit, sepia-toned interior adorned with various notes and blueprints, he creates a claustrophobic realm of deep, almost tangible melancholia that also spreads over the natural and somewhat mystical surroundings of lush greenery. And yet, the bleakness of the engineer's situation comes off as calming, rather than stifling.
Although little to no information is given about this character (for all we know, he could be the embodiment of some abstract concept), we are able to connect with him, at least on a subconscious level. Paired with his ambiguity, the film's spatial and temporal indeterminacy adds another layer of mystery to the whole proceedings which might turn away the viewers who expect explanation(s).
Subimago is available for rent or purchase at Vimeo on Demand.