Crítica: The End of Suffering (A Proposal)
- El cortometraje de la directora griega Jacqueline Lentzou parece ofrecernos algunas soluciones para nuestra angustia existencial
Este artículo está disponible en inglés.
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It is tempting to reduce the aesthetic of Greek director Jacqueline Lentzou, who has been a household name in the short film circuit for a few years now, as meandering or wavering. After all, her work tends to flow about, chasing textures, or the impulses and outbursts of her protagonists, more than plot or narrative logic. Her interests clearly lie in the way sunlight hits a dirty window, its refracted rays slowly revealing a beautiful, crying visage – not in carefully planned story beats.
We sense a certain aimlessness, often associated with the generation she so empathically portrays. Adrift in the 21st century Void her characters wander and search for their place in the world. Perhaps Lentzou is similarly looking for answers, which might be why she cannot help but linger on the faces of those who do not seem to find words, or reasoning, for their sadness. As if she’s probing for resolution. Likewise, when she manages to break free from earthly affairs by pointing her camera towards the sky and capturing the moon in all its mysteries, do we read it as yearning? And when we witness Lentzou’s foraging for emotion by way of formal playfulness, do we interpret it as a search for meaning?
Whatever it might be, Lentzou does seem to offer some solutions to our existential angst, as the title of her latest short film humorously suggests: The End of Suffering (A Proposal). For something to end however, we need to immerse ourselves in it first, which is why she opens with her heroine weeping on a train. Sofia Kokkali, who might too easily be read as an on-screen alter ego of the director after starring in both predecessor Hector Malot: The Last Day of The Year (2018) and fresh new debut feature Moon, 66 Questions [+lee también:
entrevista: Jacqueline Lentzou
ficha de la película] (2021), won’t be on screen too long for this one, yet the few seconds she’s actually in focus she manages to convey a great deal of sorrow. Her sobbing, paired with the climactic synth pop from her headphones, is truly painful to behold. As she stares at the passing landscape, she gets overtaken by panic. Moments later we watch her disappear in the crowd of a train station. She will remain the protagonist of the film, but her physical return will have to wait until the final, life-affirming scene.
As a flare circles its way down against the night sky, Sofia’s spirits calm. It’s at this moment the cosmos decides to call in, taking the film in an unexpected direction. “Your desperation level vibrated strongly, so we decided to give you some insight”, the yellow subtitles inform us/her – the disembodied voice of the Universe being an indecipherable metallic noise, courtesy of sound designer Leandros Ntounis. It’s a bizarre premise, except Lentzou makes it feel more like an unforced “anything can happen” sleight of hand. Conversations proceed, and Sofia seems open to discuss her state of mind. Though not before she awkwardly gets berated for trying to make sense of everything – as well as for three dehydrated bougainvilleas and two dead eucalyptus on her balcony. Our leading lady finds out she’s not from planet Earth, but from outer space: “You’re coming from Mars”. The revelation arrives as solace; an explanation for her burdening ‘otherness’ and existential fears.
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