Eye For Film >> Movies >> First Cousin Once Removed (2012) Film Review
First Cousin Once Removed
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
"Remember to forget no more." So says Edwin Honig. His interlocutor is Alan Berliner - he asks what Honig would say if he were in a movie, what he would say to all the people watching. "Remember: To forget no more." Alzheiemer's has Edwin, Alan's father and his grandfather too. "Remember to forget, no more."
You'll be asked to remember three words, in order. Pay close attention.
Edwin is a poet, a multilingual translator of poetry, a son, a husband, a father, not all only once - we see him in decline, but roots of it are traced further back. This is a film of exquisite sadness, an affecting portrait of a person effectively gone.
Skipping in time across a series of interviews with Honig, speaking to others, speaking himself, Berliner's film is tightly machined - it has a rhythm, a meter, a tone. There are brief moments of clips of other things - a raven at a typewriter might be Thought or Memory or Death. Words appear on the screen - some Alan's, some Edwin's, some of Pessoa, the poet whose genius he championed. The ring of a typewriter, the clatter of keys, the inevitable flicker of images verging on strobe, that rat-a-tat of the gate that means 'experimental film', here decayed, obliterated by time. It can be heavy-handed at times, at others breathtaking. An interview by proxy sheds light on four lives; Questions carried carefully convey a kindness and concern that is easy to discern.
There is talk of his reaching a "transcendent place of nothingness", but this is not tranquil, this fading - it is distressing, discomfiting. Other bits of footage intrude; some differently significant like a bridge collapsing out of reach, some clumsily magnificent like a silent film of speech. If you pay close attention you'll be rewarded, this is a poem of tone, an earnest and respectful sadness, eulogy, tribute. Unburied, praised, Edwin speaks - "I know there was a past and [that] I lived in it, but I gave it up". Alan Berliner's film does not give up, and in doing so creates something powerful, worthwhile, haunting.Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2013