J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Slamdance ’16: All the Colors of the Night

When you have a body that needs disposing, you would want to call in Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe. Unfortunately, an aging party girl like Iris will have to make do with an estranged friend with some dodgy connections. She might not realize the gravity of her situation in Pedro Severien’s All the Colors of the Night, which screens during the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival.

During the long prologue, Iris gives us her version of Tiara’s story. She killed a man, but got off scot-free, thanks to her mother’s influential friends. However, the man Tiara killed sort of had it coming—and she did not exactly live happily ever after. Regardless, Iris apparently intends to avoid prosecution just as Tiara did. Frankly, she has no idea who the dead man on her floor might be or how he got that way. She vaguely remembers him giving her the eye during her party, but the rest is a drug and alcohol-enhanced blur.

Clearly, Iris hopes Fernanda can call in a fixer who can make her mess go away. It is also clear their friendship has largely been a one-way street, for reasons of race and class. Initially, Fernanda seems inclined to help the rich, white Iris once again, but old grievances start to surface in the third act. The should-have-been-anticipated arrival of Iris’s even more resentful maid Elga also holds destabilizing consequences.

Despite some surface similarities, All the Colors of the Night should absolutely not be confused with the notorious Bruce Willis vehicle The Color of Night. However, they both require a great deal of viewer patience, albeit in very different ways. Severien’s obliquely askew approach is somewhat akin to that of Qiu Yang’s Slamdance short, Under the Sun, but it lacks the darkly humanistic sensibility.

Regardless, Brenda Lígia is quite impressive as Fernanda, keeping us consistently off-balance throughout the relatively short feature (seventy minutes). For her part, Sabrina Greve’s Iris looks and sounds convincingly zonked out on whatever. They both also have photogenic legs, which is important, because that is mainly what Severien focuses on.

In all honesty, All the Colors feels more like a New Directors/New Films selection than a Slamdance film, but here it is. It is a provocative experiment, but it never really connects. For connoisseurs of broadly experimental films, All the Colors of the Night screens again tonight (1/27) in Park City, as part of this year’s Slamdance.

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