Jan 22, 2018

What Makes Me Take the Train (Pierre Mazingarbe, 2013)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
'Orphic' gets a new meaning in Pierre Mazingarbe's short, yet delightfully surreal adventure What Makes Me Take the Train (originally, Ce qui me fait prendre le train). Orpheus is transformed into a woman (portrayed by Noémie Rosenblatt), whereby a silver screen becomes a portal to the Underworld or rather to the train wagon operated by Charon.

After a brief encounter with Cerberus (in the first of a few stop-motion sequences) and the crossing of the Styx river, Orpheus is greeted by two of her lovers (or Eurydice suffering DID), Sophie (Priscilla Bescond) and Sacha (Grégoire Baujat), 'whom the snake had taken away' from her. Since she is not allowed to bring both of them back and does not want to choose between them, they decide to compete for her attention. At one point, they engage in the game of carrot-rabbit which is similar to tennis, but has a rabbit and a bunch of carrots involved (well, duh!), and later, they opt for 'Pétanque Astronomique' which requires the Milky Way to be rebuilt prior to each match.

To reveal anything more would bring us to the spoiler territory, but let's just say that a returning soul has to suffer some wood processing that would probably make Lynch's Log Lady sad... The story often takes pretty irrational (and in addition, mystical and metaphysical) turns, but that should come as no surprise, considering its sources of inspiration are almost certainly the works of Surrealists, pioneers and followers alike. Dream logic and Greek mythology go comfortably hand in hand, as Mazingarbe mesmerizes his viewer via the stark B&W imagery replete with hints of silent era cinema, Raúl Ruiz, Jan Švankmajer, David Lynch, the Quay Brothers and Bertrand Mandico.

And yet, despite of all the aforementioned influences, the oneirisms of What Makes Me Take the Train feel genuinely fresh.

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