About Endlessness

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

About Endlessness
"There is more melancholy in About Endlessness, however, than in his preceding 'Living Trilogy', as despite moments of humour and hopefulness, its dominant themes are regret and loss."

Roy Andersson has always had an eye for the absurdities of human life - both the beautiful and the bleak - and his latest and, in all likelihood, his last, film continues in the same vein. There is more melancholy in About Endlessness, however, than in his preceding 'Living Trilogy', as despite moments of humour and hopefulness, its dominant themes are regret and loss.

In fact, it's the sense of time passing, rather than being unending, that marks out one of the first of his trademark vignettes, as a couple watch geese flying south for the winter. "It's September already." says one. "How late it is," you can feel Andersson reminding us "how late." There's nostalgia for the everyday as well as a sense of the familiar, and those who make the time to catch documentary Being A Human Person, which charts Andersson making of the film, will also see the influence of his life and personal struggles reflected in his art.

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A woman's voice guides us through much of the film, introducing many of the sequences by saying, "I saw a man/woman, who..." - among the cast of characters will be a murderer, an alcoholic priest and a man who stuffs all his money in a mattress, with many emphasising a sort of quiet desperation. The punchlines of the past films often left unmade, as though reminding us that sometimes life just isn't that funny.

Elsewhere, something of Andersson's more familiar stoicism and absurd humour in the face of existence is retained. A girl, combing her hair with all the dynamism of a chloroformed moth, listening to a male friend telling her that energy is a constant in the universe and is never destroyed, girls spontaneously dancing with joy to the Delta Rhythm boys singing Tre trallande jäntor while the more maudlin customers of a cafe look on or a man in a bar that could have been painted by Edward Hopper's bleaker cousin, asking everyone, "Isn't it fantastic?" As always, each tableaux - created individually in his studio and another reason to watch documentary Being A Human Person - is exquisitely crafted, down to each flake of snow or train carriage.

There's a much more overwhelming and profound sense of loss than in many of Andersson's films - of faith, of love, of expectation, as people find inquiries unanswered, pleas unheard or teeth unfilled - but still there are tangible reminders of something more hopeful, perhaps lying in the simple act of tying shoelaces for a child in the rain or with those geese, or a couple we see floating by in an embrace, just beyond the horizon.

Reviewed on: 05 Nov 2020
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Guided by a Scheherazade-like narrator, the film reflects on human life through a series of vignettes - from war-torn Cologne to smaller incidents like the tying of shoelaces.

Director: Roy Andersson

Writer: Roy Andersson

Starring: Lesley Leichtweis Bernardi, Tatiana Delaunay, Ania Nova, Gloria Ormandlaky, Martin Serner, Lesley Leichtweis Bernardi, Tatiana Delaunay, Ania Nova, Gloria Ormandlaky, Martin Serner

Year: 2019

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: Sweden, Germany, Norway


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