The film’s “ideas” can’t be limited to either those of Jeanne Balibar and her accompanists and accomplices or those of Costa and his own helpers because they nearly always comprise an interweaving of them all... Costa’s play with darkness and the nonvisible adds our imaginative investments to all these fluctuations.
Balibar’s search for the right sound is a laborious process of false starts and retakes, but Costa films it with an incredible sense of precision and focus. Never once moving the camera, he’s utterly locked into each moment. Using a deceptively simple palette of shadows and light, he sculpts an arresting portrait of Balibar as she shapes her music.
As ever drawing upon the lessons he learned studying (and even filming) Straub-Huillet, Costa takes a material approach to his portrait of Jeanne Balibar, poring over the craft of songmaking and practice with a focus few music documentaries can match. But don’t overlook the beauty of the thing, all velvety black-and-white digital video, luminous in a way that few films are, much less documentaries.