2020 Milwaukee Film Festival: “ABOUT ENDLESSNESS”
Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson has a reputation that precedes him. Known for his austere yet comic reflections on humanity he’s known as a heavy hitter of the arthouse world. That implies a lot that’s not always accurate as his latest, ABOUT ENDLESSNESS proves.
The reputation of a European arthouse director has perhaps been corrupted into being someone who is engaging in abstract ideas in need of decoding by a cadre of film school elites. You know, your Godard worshipers. Now, Andersson clearly has big ideas he wants to address, and a very austere and dry witted way of doing so, but nothing that requires a degree in semiotics to decipher.
ABOUT ENDLESSNESS is, more or less, about everyday existence. It’s essentially a series of vignettes, almost all against the backdrop of a gray, cloud covered sky, where people are involved in activities from the banal and mundane to contemplation of existence. Some of these are quite sincere. Some of them carry on into ridiculousness. A man can’t say hello to an old acquaintance due to a past grudge. A bottle of wine is spilled because of inattentiveness of both parties. A chance encounter with love is perhaps missed. A Priest loses faith in God and has nightmares over it. Later, the same Priest is politely, but firmly, shoved out of a psychiatrist’s office because it’s closing time and the Doctor has a bus to catch.
And, occasionally, a female voice makes observations on what is on screen. Perhaps it’s the voice of God.
Obviously, you can dig as deep or little into these incidents as you want. They’re all united by a color scheme of gray, rust brown, and dull off-white. The camera barely, if ever, moves or cuts. Andersson is just asking us to observe and think about the people that inhabit the screen. In all their humanity.
But, it’s that minimalism and focus that makes ABOUT ENDLESSNESS thoughtful and unpredictable. ABOUT ENDLESSNESS is less that 80 minutes long, but you never know what it’s going to touch on next. All you know is that it’s going to be human. And, humanity is endlessly fascinating. Which is the whole point of the film, that’s successfully carried out. So far, it’s one of the must sees of the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival.
ABOUT ENDLESSNESS is streaming throughout the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival which runs from October 15 to 29, 2020. Tickets to individual films and passes to the festival as a whole can be purchased via Milwaukee Film.