No one seems to know what Lukas Moodysson is up to. People are still reeling from A Hole in my Heart which at times seemed to be an outright attack on his audience's expectations. In itself not a bad thing and we always have room under our wing for a film so ugly, but it did seem to come out of leftfield even when taking into count the darker territory he'd begun to map in Lilya 4-ever. Even that film with its often unflinching look at trafficking had a lot of charm. Together was the opposite - so disarming that it was easy to overlook one of the central character's weakness for violence. Maybe it's because his first film, Fucking Åmål (Show Me Love), is our favourite and so easy to fall in love with that we want that Lukas Moodysson back and not the director of Container.
When the LFF warns you that "this new film marks a quantum leap" it's a subtle warning that what follows is going to leave a lot of people behind or as we overheard one reviewer comment at yesterday's press screening, 'Well, I sat through it, but then again I was paid to...' In fact a number of people left the cinema well before the film's short (but oh so very long) 74 minutes was up.
What you're presented with is a continuous monologue over a series of black and white scenes in which a man and a woman (who may be the same person) catalogue debris, don wigs, gas masks and each other. And that's about it. There's a clue as to the intention in that when the project began Moodysson intended it to be about the aftermath of a tsunami, but that idea was forcibly evolved when the real-life Boxing Day tsunami happened.
There is something going on here, but the viewer like the actors, has quite a job ahead of them to discern what is important and what is simply detritus. You can't help feel that Container would be better served on paper where the Molly Bloomesque stream of information could be more easily digested, studied. As it is the audience needs multiple viewings to better understand Moodysson's sermon on celebrity, religion, self-examination, gender and the id. The problem is that the visuals on offer given little incentive to track the film down twice. Indeed, as we saw, many will fail to give the film a viewing at all.
So, something for Moodysson completeists and for Sight & Sound to dissect at their leisure, Container plays on October 24th and 25th.