Sunday, August 15, 2010

Possible Lovers

Possible Lovers
Directed by Raya Martin
Sound Design by Teresa Barozzo

There's almost only one shot in the whole of Possible Lovers. That shot is a static single take of a young man staring longingly at another fast asleep on a couch. They are dressed semiotically, commoner and bourgeoise. You come to that from the found footage of 1919 Manila that came before it, as if grasping for echoes, or straws. It is not acting they do, these two on the couch, not really. It's performance art, almost. It's an endurance test, certainly. Possible Lovers is an experimental film. It's even more experimental than Raya's Next Attraction. But it's not bullish about its experimentalism, Raya's experimental films never really are. The label on the tape says, cheekily, Autohystoria 2. And like Autohystoria, there is an inertia and passivity about it. Unlike Autohystoria, it doesn't build up to anything but rather folds in on its own inertia and passivity. That can be terribly frustating for most people. It's the way an installation piece behaves and at first, it makes sense to come to it as if it were one, but not really. It fails as video art in that, notwithstanding a disregard for structuralist rigor, it's like a James Benning landscape film, and sound is where what little story it's telling is being told, making it co-dependent on the immersive properties of the cinema setting, demanding at some point that you close your eyes and prick up your ears. That may seem like a peculiar demand for a movie to make but it's not as if it hasn't been asked before. There are five ways you can react to Possible Lovers. You can be bored. You can be pissed. You can be at a loss. You can be heartbroken. You can be spellbound. You can go through all five, like I did. You have 95 minutes. There's enough time to run the gamut and back again. Every reaction is valid. Every reaction is correct. It is, in varying degrees, both conceptual hubris and avant mindfuck. It is also a love letter, not a valentine as the love is unrequited, and like all love letters, only one copy of it exists. That copy is on a haggard MiniDV. Every time it gets played, the image remains pristine as it can be but the sound goes to seed. This is the third time it's been played. And the rot is already a lot more profuse. The dropouts and glitches, they're almost like atmospheric conditions, ghosts. Break the title down and that's what this is about. The finitude of love and the cruel ecstasy of possibility and all the ghosts that flit in and out of that dreadful suspension between the two. I wonder how many more times the film will get played. And I think about how one day there will be almost no sound left at all. Almost no story, no love, no possibility. Only that pristine image of longing. And the empty, futile stasis that comes with it. * * *

No comments: