Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Lightship, Jery Skolimowski, 1986

A rather odd project. I haven't read "Das Feuerschiff", but Lenz is a rather pedestrian author who's works are primarily used to torture German high-schoolers. The casting is rather weird, too, Brandauer's role is never fully developed, and the story about his son (including the rather indifferent voice over) feels strangely detached from the rest of the film.

However, Skolimowski's mastery proofs itself all the more in the way how effortless this works despite those (would-be) flaws. Like Leaud in LE DEPART, Duvall has virtually free rein in this, and in the first minutes after his arrival, the film seems to be in danger of derailing. But in both films Skolimowski finds a way to transform eccentric performances without constraining them.

In fact, both Duvall and Skolimowski play with their respective audiences inside and outside the diegesis. While Duvall introduces bored seamen to chaos theory, Skolimowski unobtrusively twists genre expectations. This is no thriller, no matter how much it looks like one on first sight - the action scenes are well done, but they're always an afterthought, not the main thing. It's also not a film about enclosed space, as the topography of the ship is never explored. Instead, THE LIGHTSHIP is a dark, tightly controlled mood piece centered around a completely deranged subjectivity, which affects everything it touches. Or rather, everything it talks to, in a low, soft, seemingly careless voice.

And then there's the scene with Forsyhte eating chocolate ice cream.

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