Eye For Film >> Movies >> L'Assenza (2013) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
Black and white, sharp suits, modernist architecture, something jazzy - it's the Sixties. It's also a living room, wine left in the kitchen, a "difficult" film of the era on television - Alice is convinced he's got a doppelganger in one of the party scenes, but he actually looks a lot like Stephen Mangan. Though that's less odd than you might think, because Martin is played by him.
Mangan's got form in short film, still at a stage in his career where (to paraphrase another film-maker talking about someone else) there's still a chance he'll read a script that's sent to him and in a timely fashion. It's easier to say that because short film is more of a labour of love - nobody's getting enough to keep two plays in Rep on Broadway or spend another summer on the canals.
Amanda Ryan is Alice, another Channel 4 veteran, baffled by Martin's dedication to a film she had unsuccessfully persuaded him to see the first time. This isn't "vitriolic Korean neo-noir", nor is it "severe", but it is rewarding.
Jonathan Romney writes, directs, and convinces with a tale that's rich in allusion without its various acts of homage becoming too heavy-handed.
Obsession with film is echoed here in pursuit of L'Assenza. A retrospective at the BFI South Bank, but no copies on home media, the right mixture of savvy that enables it to be found screening in Paris but not wish-listed on a proprietary digital video recorder or procured by more piratical means. Its rarity, obscurity, make it a white whale to Martin, though where eBay may have served as Pequod it's the Eurostar that conveys him to a fateful reunion. Though uncomplicated in appearance it is the quality of the observation that enables it to function, and while it's not perfect, the most readily identifiable absence in the film is that you are not yet watching it.Reviewed on: 16 Feb 2014