Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Fantasia ’16: Aloys
Adorn is a private eye, but he follows more in the tradition of Alain
Robbe-Grillet’s The Erasers than
Hammett or Chandler. Nondescript and unassuming to a fault, Adorn is perfect
for divorce surveillance. Following the death of his father (who was also his
partner and roommate), Adorn withdraws from life in a manner worthy of Bartleby
the Scrivener, but a strange neighbor will try to pull him back, sort of, in
Tobias Nölle’s Aloys (trailer here), which screens
during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.
is not like a lot of people are yearning to engage with Adorn, but he will
freeze out any who try. That includes his rather odd neighbor Vera. Apparently,
she was so frustrated with him, she stole his video camera and digital tapes.
That would be before her accident-slash-suicide attempt. He used to watch his
old surveillance footage each night, in lieu of having a life, but she will
force him outside his comfort zone instead.
calls it “telephone walking,” but it is essentially a mutual visualization
exercise. In this case, it might actually work. Soon Adorn is projecting
himself to a mossy forest, where he meets the hospitalized Vera. Or maybe it is
an idealized version of her. Regardless, he soon starts to feel some kind of
something for her, especially when she joins him in his apartment for groovy,
retro-1970s console-organ party.
Aloys is a very strange
film, but also an understated one, as you would perhaps expect from the German-speaking
Swiss. Nölle’s mastery of mise-en-scène is conspicuously evident in each and
every carefully composed shot. He and cinematographer Simon Guy Fässler make
Euro drabness look dramatically stark. Yet, he might be too thorough when it
comes to problematizing ostensive reality. Once the telephone walking starts,
he never lets viewers get their feet back under them, though not all cult
cinema fans will object to that.
Without question, Nölle elevates style over
narrative, so be prepared to deal (or not). However, the hypnotic control he
exerts is almost eerie. There is substance to the surreal flights, but do not
look for easy, programmatic symbolism. Just call it an existential trip.
Recommended for the adventurous, Aloys screens
again this Wednesday (7/27) as part of Fantasia ’16.
Labels: Fantasia '16, Swiss Cinema