Estonian Nouvelle Vague @ Berlinale Forum 2014
(“Ballaad maailma heakskiitmisest”, 2013 Estonia by Veikoo Ounpuu with Laurie Lagle, Mari Abel, Jaanika Arum, Jim Ashilevi | 104 min)
Critique by Sieva Diamantakos
|Ballaad maailma heakskiitmisest - Free Range|
FREE RANGE is a movie shot by Veikoo Öunpuu. The young director has submitted this, his third full-length movie, to the Oscars (but was not nominated).
It is essentially the story of a couple who live in Tallin, Estonia; she gets pregnant, her boyfriend seems to run into an existential crisis. This leads him to question his way of life and his choices.
He loses his job, has an affair with his ex-girlfriend, and enjoys the company of older free-thinkers and friends who lead a bohemian way of life. All the elements of this movie seem to converge to one theme: the sixties - its values and its aesthetics.
Everything, from the content (it’s the story of a rebellion), to the dresses, and even the way it is shot (16mm) is reminiscent of that era, particularly the French Nouvelle Vague.
The shaky camera is combined with the grainy, washed-out photography to convey a fascinating feeling that wavers between nostalgia and a state of uncertainty.
There are two generations represented in this film. Primarily the film is focused on the youth which Fred (Laurie Lagle) and his girlfriend Susanna belong to; the portrait brings up the same idiosyncrasies that were so widely spread out among the young in the sixties. After losing his job at an art magazine for a biting film critique, the leading character seems unable to face his new responsibilities of becoming a father. He longs for freedom, spending his new life between parties and intellectual meetings, but for most of the time he seems lost and unhappy.
In the second half of the movie he finds a job as a forklift driver that he thinks will give him more satisfaction than selling his by soul writing meaningless articles. His alienation reaches its peak here; our hero is shown driving the truck back and forth without purpose, probably the image that best symbolises his state of mind.
The other generation has undoubtedly less emphasis in the film but it appears to be problematic as well; their old traditional values, namely those of Susanna’s parents, show all their limitations in our contemporary world.
Tallinn is portrayed as a post-modern city; the urban shots aim only to depict the suburbs against the new skyscrapers. The soundtrack, recorded from a vinyl, presents some hits from the sixties which frames Frank’s bold spirit.
There’s only one thing that would distinguish this movie from one realised in the sixties: the yearning soul of the director. This film looks like it is made by somebody who, though extremely fascinated by the revolutionary utopia, does not seek to celebrate it. Instead, he is conscious of its failure as he contemplates it with wistful eyes. The 16 mm film and the soundtrack play a huge role in conveying this feeling.
Unfortunately the characters don’t reveal themselves deeply (especially the main one) while dialogues are rare and not always effective. So there’s the risk that despite the stunning images the charming story will bore the audience.
Rating: * *
|Ballaad maailma heakskiitmisest|