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Blog // Thoughts
September 20, 2005

Reconstruction

One of the things I miss, as a consequence of being here in Delhi, is access to good art-house films. So, on my recent trip to London, I just had to pick up some new DVDs. Amongst these was Reconstruction, the first film from director Christopher Boe and for which Manuel Alberto Claro won the […]

One of the things I miss, as a consequence of being here in Delhi, is access to good art-house films. So, on my recent trip to London, I just had to pick up some new DVDs. Amongst these was Reconstruction, the first film from director Christopher Boe and for which Manuel Alberto Claro won the Palm d’-Or for cinematography.

Reconstruction is a sophisticated, visually compelling film. However, it could well irritate those who prefer a more direct kind of narrative, or who tire of conceptually driven plot-lines. Boe is trying to be clever (and doing it well) and the ideas do sometimes intrude a little too obviously, though far less so than with Memento (a film to which reconstruction has been frequently compared), which after all, was a very simple plot dressed up in complex plot-device.

In fact many comparisons have been drawn for this film; Lynch, Bergman, von Trier, Hitchcock, Robbe-Grillet, Vonnegut and Kafka, all of which gives you some idea of the gravity of the film. However, the parallel that came to my mind was with Italo Calvino and in particular “If On A Winter’s Night.” Reconstruction is not just about a story being retold, but about how the retelling of the story changes not just the story, or the characters, but the storyteller themselves.
As such, the film is a meditation not only love (it’s most central narrative-theme), but also on identity. It poses the most anxious question that any lover encounters; “how do I know this person I now love?” Knowing is the foundation not just of feeling, but of trust and knowing how to know is the toughest of tests, not just of a relationship but of oneself.

My favorite parts of the film where those moments when the Aimee and Alex worked through the different ways their encounters could turn out. In the hands of a less skilled film-maker, these scenes could easily have been cumbersome, but here they had a playfulness about them. They highlight the way fantasy, desire and reality interplay in ways that can shift dramatically from clarity to opacity (“I love this person/ I do not know this person”).

Boe freely plays with these elements, knowing, love and identity in ways that are sharp, entertaining, often mesmerising (in the case of Maria Bonnevie’s masterful performance), distressing (especially for Nikolaj Lie Kaas’ Alex) and quite satisfying in the final conclusion.

[tags] Reconstruction, Film, Identity, Christopher Boe [/tags]

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