Volume 21, Number 51 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 1 - 7, 2009
Photo by Jaap Vliegenthart
Actress Georgina Verbaan
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: DAZZLE
Director: Cyrus Frisch
Feature – 90 Min.
Tribeca Film Festival Review: Dazzle
BY ELENA MANCINI
This technically experimental film by Dutch filmmaker Cyrus Frisch is a wildly unconventional love story with elements of suspense. Frisch, who has been compared to Lars von Trier and the late Theo von Gogh, is known for bold and challenging filming techniques and controversial topics.
At the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, he presented “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to get this bad in Afghanistan,” which he shot with a mobile phone. In this feature, an accidental phone call from a distant stranger transforms the life of a reclusive and emotionally fragile woman. What begins as a boding intrusion from a disembodied voice on the other end of the telephone develops into an intimate, lyrical meaning-of-life meandering exchange with redemptive discoveries that border on the fantastic.
Mixing in elements of film noir, Magical Realism and French Impressionist Cinema, Frisch interprets the dialogue between the conversation partners with poetic visual metaphors. Disjointed from the dialogue, the metaphors appear confusing at first. However, once the flow of the narrative is established, they effectively serve to underline the protagonists’ psychic states and emotional interiorities. For instance, a take of a helicopter losing control in the sky effectively accompanies a conversation about the sensations experienced with falling in love
The beginning of the film is straining because of a camera that moves restlessly and seemingly arbitrarily — as well as protracted moments of unsettling dialogue that occur on a black screen.
Apart from the unusual dialogue and the artistic idiosyncrasies, the film also touches upon meaningful social and moral questions. Common, every day social postures and attitudes that have become reflexive in the post-industrial West such as indifference toward the suffering of others, “looking the other way” and “going back to sleep” are called into question in ways that are both provocative and refreshing.