Last year’s SIFF film A Hole In My Heart has haunted me more than any of the films last year. I regret only giving it three stars. Although the movie was very fucked up and probably exploitative, it was a great work of filmmaking and definitely deserved five stars.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Container, Lukas Moodysson’s latest film to play at SIFF, will stick with me the same way. But I could be wrong. I gave this movie an even lower rating — just two stars.
I have a bad feeling that I’ve said/written this before, but I honestly think that Container is the most abstract/”artistic” movie I’ve ever seen. There was no discernable plot to the film. There was no music or sound effects (well, until the end when a droning industrial noise a la David Lynch entered the film).
As far as I could tell, it was basically a narrator (Jena Malone of all people!!) reading some sort of a poem written in the first person. The topics of the poem ranged from information gleaned from gossip columns to ruminations on the pregnancy of Mary to dreams of Kylie Minogue (with a nice ass) representing the angel Daniel to collecting boots from a porn actress named Savannah.
The visual images that accompanied the narration synched up with the topic of the text sometimes, but more often than not followed a fat guy (who, I think it’s safe to say, wrote the text that the narrator is reading) doing strange things like taping baby dolls to his face, taking bathes with ravioli, and cross-dressing by wearing a blonde wig and makeup. At times the man is accompanied by an Asian girl (who often rides on his back).
If I had to say (and I’m pretending that I do have to) that there was a theme to the film, I’ll go with my old psychoanalytic favorite: abjection. I really do mean it, though. I think it’d be a fairly straight-forward and obvious reading of the film to suggest that the Asian girl was in fact the “inner girl” that the fat man talked about a few times and tried to express with his cross-dressing. He hated the fact she was inside of him and was not “outside of” him i.e. that his outside was a man and not a woman.
In addition to that basic thematic reading, the visual aspects of the film often focused on garbage and fetuses. Not to be “pro-abortion,” but I think it’d be pretty easy to say that fetuses could be a clear signifier of a desire to abject something. Further, the narrator once said something like, “Stop kicking me or I will get an abortion.”
What this all means, I don’t know. As of right now (less than two hours after leaving the film), I’m left with nothing profound. After A Hole In My Heart I remember feeling sorta dirty and confused — but the film stayed with me. Part of me doubts that Container will have that same affect.
One final note that isn’t about the film: Container was shown at the Northwest Film Forum. The venue was very small. I think about twelve people left during this movie — way more people than during A Hole In My Heart. I think I’ve written this before, but I’ve never left during a movie. I think it’s rude and I think that people should know what they are getting into beforehand. But during Container, it seemed that people who left wanted to make it known that they were leaving. Maybe it was because the place was small and had wooden floors, but it sounded like people were stomping out and trying extra hard to be loud. It was irritating.