Kékszakállú Screen 86 of 18 reviews

Kékszakállú

2016

Kékszakállú Poster
  • Solnicki has worked with his two talented DPs to compose widescreen images of the mixture of baroque and mundane that make the architecture of contemporary Argentina, as well as intriguing close-ups of his young protagonists – and as the film unfolds, he displays an uncanny grace to position their bodies into their living spaces, the architecture or the landscapes they traverse. Replete with both hidden melancholy and dry humour, Kéksakáliú is a little gem of a film.

  • A drifting, generational torpor is also the status quo of the privileged Buenos Aires millennials of Kékszakállú, by Argentinian director Gastón Solnicki, which plays like a beautifully evocative and minimalist satire of this heavily class-based milieu.

  • Solnicki’s serial portrait of young girls on the threshold of adulthood in present-day Argentina is distinguished by a fantastically enterprising and expressive use of a diverse range of found locations. The latter vividly connote both the private anxiety and alienation experienced by the film’s protagonists and the pervasive malaise afflicting a highly unequal and divided national society still processing the convulsions of the extreme financial crisis undergone at the new millennium’s outset.

  • It’s an eerie high-modernist fable of girls from a seemingly well-protected environment exiting their childhood castles for the wide world where pleasures lure and dangers lurk—and sometimes, merely a job needs to be found. Irony is the name of the game, but also a will for beauty that is extremely tactile, sensual, loosely woven—in that respect, at least, close to Bartók’s opera.

  • A film of fraught fascinations, of fragmented spectacle gleaned through what was by Solnicki’s own report an audaciously aimless, desperate search for usable material... Kékszakállú is a film whose every moment is the product of a nervous gamble, a young person’s search for a reason for being, and thus a beguiling mirror of its heroine’s journey.

  • ++

    Sight & Sound: Jordan Cronk
    November 04, 2016 | Toronto | December 2016 Issue (p. 55)

    As much as any other Wavelengths title, Kékszakállú responded with a challenging, invigorating vision of cinema's continued vitality...With its static compositions and exacting dramaturgy – stark architectural designs occupy individual frames as often as bewitching illustrations of the female form – Solnicki's film constructs an ordered yet precarious psychological space for its characters to inhabit, as seemingly unrelated events build to an appropriately operatic conclusion.

  • Shooting over two separate months in Uruguay and Buenos Aires with direct sound and a 40mm lens (“John Ford’s favorite lens for shooting a man on a horse!”), Solnicki moves from the unusual but recognizable nonfiction family study of Papirosen (2011) to something distinctive yet reminiscent of compatriots Lucrecia Martel and Martin Rejtman.

  • The movie is populated by obsessively composed landscapes of diving boards, factories, and the juts and angles of modern architecture, in which the various protagonists—if they can even be elevated to such a level—meander through their languorous and privileged lives. What Kékszakállú lacks in plot and character, though, it makes up in the fullest realization of its simmering and vaguely volatile atmosphere.

  • Despite some operatic flourishes, the overall feel of “Kékszakállú” is inviting and approachable, a pleasantly intuitive trip through changing times. It takes an uncommon talent to keep the mundane from seeming inert, and through Solnicki’s lens, the absence of outer conflict doesn’t mute the turmoil within. His subjects are not satisfied with the world they’re leaving and the one they’re growing into, and his film animates their dilemma like few others can.

  • There’s something to be said for a narrative work that bucks a common tendency to introduce many strands at a narrative outset and slowly wind them together, choosing instead to remain willfully obscure, resistant. Solnicki and his actresses likely know their characters and stories inside and out, but Kékszakállú ends up a richer portrait for only offering us shards and glimpses of these seven lives.

  • Solnicki just seems to have shot a ton of random material, Terrence Malick-style, and given a home to anything that’s worth looking at for its own sake. This makes for a slightly frustrating experience, even at just 72 minutes, but only because the film feints at being something more than a collage of quiet rapture. On that level, it works beautifully.

  • Like Shohei Imamura, Argentinian writer-director Gaston Solnicki can be understood as a cinematic "entomologist."

  • The theme is much more specific, though, the process of commitment - like the process of daring to dive off a diving-board - as a young person slowly learns to find herself in the world and hopefully avoid the sausage-factory version of adulthood; lots of short, glancing, visually elegant scenes, all quite beguiling. The guy beside me put his head on his girlfriend's arm, and kept it there for half the movie. It's that kind of movie.

  • The most striking formal element is the opera itself, nearly the only music in the film. Solnicki makes much use of a London Symphony Orchestra recording, conducted by István Kertész and sung by Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry. The chosen excerpts do not directly intervene in the lives of the characters; no one is seen hearing the music, for example. Yet despite the apparent lack of synchronization, the operatic excerpts fight for control of the experience.

  • This is the kind of film that can leave a viewer enraptured within minutes, based solely on its images. Even before the opening title card, Solnicki delivers composition after stunning composition, making impressive use of duration, off-screen sound, negative space, color, and music (from the original opera), among other cinematic techniques. It’s not this film’s narrative, but the particulars of its construction, that are crucial.

  • Solnicki complements his oblique but sharply observed portrait with a striking—but never imposing—compositional eye. Despite working in static tableaux that is something of an arthouse norm, he draws on architecture to distance himself from superficially similar works.

  • The film felt more of a piece with recent Argentinian work such as Lucrecia Martel’s La Cienaga and Jazmin Lopez’s Leones. This is hardly a bad thing, but I was missing the mythological element. Alas, I was being too literal-minded. Where Bluebeard murdered his young wives, Kékszakállú is about the maturation process as a series of small compromises of identity, deaths of the soul.

  • My final screening at TIFF ended up being Gastón Solnicki’s minimalist and minimally conceived Kékszakállú, which claims inspiration from Béla Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle. Sure thing, bro. I’d describe the film as an hour and change of young Argentine women in various states of bikinidom doing nothing in a semi-evocative way, though I was pretty taken with a factory sequence that answered questions I never knew I had about how Styrofoam gets made.

More Links