So you think you like slow movies?
- Jauja review by WS
Well, think again! This makes "Once upon a Time in Anatolia" look like Mission Impossible 6!!
I found myself wondering whether I could be watching result of an auteurs' contest to see who could produce a film telling the simplest story possible in the most dilatory way possible. This is achieved partly through long pauses in the dialogue, but principally by the device of sustaining a shot as the character walks or rides off into the middle, then the far distance, before finally disappearing over a ridge or behind a hummock.
Mortensen's powerful and affecting performance as the intrepid engineer struggling to fulfil his self-imposed mission while dimly aware that he is hopelessly out of his element, helps to keep you interested in the story. But the developments that occur in the last 20 minutes are incomprehensible, and I suspect, intentionally so - an old woman in a cave who may be a ghost or a time-traveller, and the tailpiece set in contemporary Denmark. There are echoes of David Lynch's mystery dramas here, as well as Kieslowski's "Double Life of Veronique".
The unconventional choice of 1.33 aspect ratio, so that the image appears as a fat oblong with rounded corners in the middle of the TV screen with a thick black band either side, is something that I found very distracting and didn't seem the best way to present the stunning landscapes. In an accompanying featurette, Viggo Mortensen gives an explanation for this decision, but I didn't follow it.
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