Mar 17, 2018

EVERYONE AFRAID TO BE FORGOTTEN (Jonna Lee & John Strandh, 2018)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

A driving force behind the fascinating online project iamamiwhoami, Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee (aka ionnalee) makes a fine debut as a co-writer/director of a 50-minute long feature whose title can not ring any truer. Effortlessly blending (synth)pop music with experimental cinema, she and her DoP collaborator John Strandh deliver one of the most eclectic and - well, this might sound strange, but consider it as a compliment - 'milkiest' films I've seen so far in 2018.

The basis for the unconventional, poetic narrative is reflected in every artist's desire stemming from the very human fear of oblivion and that is to create something which will stand the test of time. In their struggle to be remembered forever, Lee and Strandh present the viewer with an experience comparable to a fresh, fragrant breeze that gently infuses you with new, somewhat rejuvenating energy. And only the upcoming days will tell whether the sensation is lasting or not.

Like the Ouroboros, their story ends where it begins and believe me, this is not a spoiler, considering that the storytelling is eschewed in favor of the overall feel and atmosphere. An unnamed heroine (played by Jonna Lee herself) is stranded in an uninviting wonderland inhabited by a sect-like community who holds an 'unending party' with guests adorned in white and wolf-masks. As she tries to find her way back to the 'outside' world, the themes of isolation, treachery and exclusion intertwine in the rhythm of a low-key phantasy.

Blurring or, at some points, completely erasing the boundaries between self-portraits, music videos, fairy tales, mystical rituals, performing arts, avant-garde films and all of our realities, both physical and virtual, the duo comes up with a peculiar musical - visually stimulating and aurally spellbinding (even if you're not a big fan of the genre, as in my case). There's an ethereal quality to Strandh's cinematography, as well as to Lee's vocals and appearance, that keep you mesmerized, eyes glued to the screen, ears tuned to audio-reveries. Simply put, beautiful!

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