Two new US releases for 2015. Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams is clean – verging on sterile, in fact. Marie (Ane Dahl Torp) is charged with carrying Norway’s official kilo to Paris for a conference. Her life begins to change through small events.
The good things about 1001 Grams are Dahl Torp’s magnificently restrained performance that goes hand-in-hand with Hamer’s equally restrained direction. Still, there’s something about 1001 Grams that’s missing. The film seems set up for more whimsy than it delivers, though there is a fantastically magical moment where a pile of ashes inexplicably, and wonderfully, loses weight to a poignant number.
I’ve gone back and forth a lot on 1001 Grams. On one hand, it does what it sets out to do, and does it in a sleek (but definitely not slick) way. It builds slowly to one – the aforementioned – moment, which is indeed, beautiful.
On the other hand, there’s too much wide-eyed simplicity to the film, particularly in the relationship between Marie and Pi (Laurent Stocker), which makes sense in the way that the narrative unfolds, but seems plucked from a slightly different film.
Hamer does move his camera and there are close-ups, but the majority of 1001 Grams is made up of static wides:
The above images are all pretty, but they reinforce the idea that I expressed earlier – that the film seems like it should be more whimsical than it is. Those touches of blue – omnipresent in the movie – just kind of punch the aesthetic up a bit (especially those umbrellas). They feel surreal, and almost cartoonish, a feeling that isn’t reciprocated in the plot.
The umbrella image is a good one to linger on, because it’s of the convention. And the convention – with its cast of characters – also feels somehow separate from the loneliness that lingers everywhere, and is stronger, in Hamer’s film.
A Wolf at the Door
Fernando Coimbra’s A Wolf at the Door is a pretty sharp, harrowing thriller: a kidnapping film that’s more than a kidnapping film.
It’s got a great score by Ricardo Cutz, is engaging front to back, and also features a lot of compelling 2-shots – a frame that’s seemed out of style for awhile now. The only beef I outright have with the film is an unnecessary voiceover at the end.
There are a lot of these 2-shots:
I don’t just like the frames (though I do), I also like how long Coimbra lingers on them. 2-shots are so under-utilized. You get some real tension with the real-time, same-frame reaction, especially in a tense thriller like this one. There’s so much to be said about the direct eye contact, the distance between the characters, and the way the frame then also utilizes the environment (as opposed to shot-reverse, where the tighter complementary frames are often a shallower depth of field).
I’ve noted this before in my blog, but this is also confidence in one’s actors – letting them really perform in a long take and use their bodies int he medium/medium-wide shots.