Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Boston Sci-Fi ’17: The Open
would be a rare case of a sports film without an equipment sponsorship. Perhaps
Wilson did not want viewers to think their strings would not last through the
apocalypse. At least the frames endure in Marc Lahore’s The Open (trailer here), which screens
during the 2017 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival.
Tavernier was poised to dominate the French Open until nuclear Armageddon rudely
sidetracked the world. However, she will survive and so will her dream, nursed
by her denial-facilitating coach Andre. Taking refuge on the Scottish Hebrides,
they continue to train as if the Open is still on. Of course, it will take two
to play for the title, so Andre manages to abduct Ralph, a reluctant militia
fighter, who was previously a low-ranked professional (#942) before doomsday.
They still lack balls and strings for their rackets, but they Andre insists
they go through the motions anyway.
Ralph finds the absurdity of it all too much to handle, but he eventually
agrees training with Tavernier under Andre’s protection is probably preferable
to waging a pointless urban war. Soon, he too acclimates to their mental game,
but there is still a war going on out there and it makes Ralph particularly
jumpy when it distantly intrudes on their strange oasis of tennis.
The Open is one of the
oddest post-apocalyptic films ever made as well as the unlikeliest sports
movie, but it respects the conventions of both genres, synthesizing them for
its own ends. Obviously, it is considerably surreal, but Lahore largely steers
clear of pretentiousness. Essentially, Lahore asks, all things considered, why
shouldn’t they play tennis? It seems to be just as productive an option as
anything else they might do, under the circumstances.
Northcote and Maia Lavasseur-Costil are terrific portraying the players’
evolving relationship from ostensive rivals to something more supportive and
considerably deeper. Pierre Benoist gives the film further tragic dimension as
Andre, the coach who had already sacrificed so much for Tavernier, even before
Lahore (as director and cinematographer) makes
the Hebrides look like they were dreamed up by Dalí. He might have trimmed ten
or fifteen minutes while wearing his co-editor hat (with Benjamin Minet), but
the film still avoids the listlessness you would expect from an absurdist allegory.
Recommended for fans of apocalyptic cinema, The
Open screens this Wednesday (2/15) as part of the Boston Sci-Fi Film
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, Boston Sci-Fi '17