Sea Without Shore


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Sea Without Shore
"Unremittingly beautiful."

A poetic meditation on love and death set in 19th century Sweden, Sea Without Shore combines inventive choreography with the power of wild winter landscapes to create something which, though uneven, often enthralls. It's a tale of two women, one of whom dies but continues to be visible to both the audience and her paramour as the film wrestles with the question of what happens when love - and all the embodied fragments that go with it - outlasts the flesh.

Livia Rangel and Fernanda Lippi lead the dance, moving through settings familiar from a century of art: an old, dusty house, all bare wood and pale sunbeams; a dark forest thick with possibility; the isolated surface of a frozen lake with mountains beyond to remind the lovers of their insignificance. The two lie on their backs in water, recalling Millais' Ophelia and his poor model, Elizabeth Siddal, who caught pneumonia for his art. We see a white form slumped on a hillside like Flaming June in January. Love itself seems frozen here, expressed in the words of long dead Katherine Philips, Renée Vivien and Algernon Charles Swinburne, yet bodies jerk across the floor like damaged puppets. Is this some effort at reanimation? There are hints of pagan ritual in a wild dance in the woods. Is it, instead, illustrative of the old patterns the mind runs through when memories are all that remain of the one held so dear?

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Designed on a stage and then, according to the choreographers, reworked when they discovered the impact of the landscape, the film is unremittingly beautiful, captured by Marcus Waterloo and complemented by crisp sound design by Gravity's Glenn Freemantle. More than just a means of bringing dance to the masses, it's a truly cinematic work, extending the bounds of the art. Its pacing is a little ragged and it doesn't grip as tightly as a tale of this type really needs to, but it will haunt the viewer for a long time after it ends, and there are few film experiences like it. The dancers' physical work is amazing (especially considering how cold they were during many scenes), but importantly they both convince as actors too, making this more accessible than its genre predecessors. The greatest power of the piece is in the atmosphere it creates, but there's a lot more beneath the surface.

Reviewed on: 25 Feb 2015
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A journey through the subconscious in the aftermath of a bereavement.
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Director: Andre Semenza, Fernanda Lippi

Writer: Andre Semenza, Fernanda Lippi

Starring: Livia Rangel, Fernanda Lippi, Anna Mesquita

Year: 2015

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Brazil, UK, Sweden


Glasgow 2015

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