Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Last week's tour of the Tates served as a reminder of just how much drama and psychological engagement an top artists can project from a static two-dimensional canvas.

Paintings with multiple 'actors' often implicitly invite the viewer into the scene in such a way that we are compelled to look into the thoughts and motivations of its frozen participants.

Most film directors rely so heavily on the lines of plot, character and dialogue drawn across the whole narrative that they tend to forget about the drama of the moment.

Crialese's Respiro (2002) on the other hand, is an entire movie made up of such moments.

As I noted whilst dissing Notes on a Scandal recently, there is one scene in Respiro where the volatile Grazia is held down by various members of her family intent on delivering a sedative via a long needle where one has a vivid sense of engagement with the minds in play, calling forth a mood mixed from both violent compulsion and sensuality.

This combination of myth-making and evocative incident makes this movie a rather pleasing oddity. It's also a fine work of landscape art, with its very alluring presentation of the island of Lampedusa.

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