Sam and Jonathan, a pair of hapless novelty salesman, embark on a tour
of the human condition in reality and fantasy that unfold in a series of
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence
Directed by Roy Andersson
Starring Holger Andersson,
Well well, where do you begin? If you haven’t seen the previous two films (Songs From The Second Floor
and You, The Living
) in the trilogy of which this is the conclusion, go away, do that, and then come back. You can watch this as a standalone effort if you really want to, but be prepared to have your patience tested, not to mention your no doubt already shattered confidence in humanity re-adjusted for the better, if only slightly.
Deliberate, candid static framing, clinical and crisp execution of direction with effective, considered use of sound, this is often whimsical and always darkly comic. Petty, tragic and directed somewhat tongue-in-cheekly, events never threaten to become too bogged down in any reality you might really recognise (hopefully) and each interlude is as captivating as the last, all enjoying the superlative attention to detail and enough questions hanging languidly in front of your very eyes to take in where you can. Each scene, for the most part, is decorated well enough only to beg mental intervention from the viewer and as an audience member, you may well find yourself undernourished at first, but on closer inspection, find that there is more than meets the eye at first glance.
Andersson’s fondness for space and how it is inhabited is clear to see as many of his scenes employ layered performances that are as relevant in the background as much as the foreground and despite the often painfully slow, unadventurous execution of its telling, it makes the experience no less intriguing. With death at the elbow throughout, this is an often sombre and worrying look at the end personal existence, even if it is perforated by events that are incredulous by their depiction on screen. In short, the humour that is gained is not because its content is funny, but possibly because is isn’t, but present nonetheless. As you may have gathered already, this is not for everyone.
With over-riding themes of morbid (some might say realistic) inevitability, this final project is as engaging as it is perplexing and you will be forgiven for thinking more than once not only where on earth the ideas unfolding came from, but how they managed to make it to film. The more cynical and impatient viewer is unlikely to make it past the first half an hour at best, whereas those more aggressive cinephiles might go all the way just to say he/she has. More a collection of artistic impressions devoid of a convincing narrative, this is more visually compelling than what some might classify as conventional entertainment, but no less worthy for that fact.
Bizarre, yet oddly fascinating, nonetheless.
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