Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuvalu (1999)

Seen: On our projector set-up, streamed from netflix instant.

Oh man I love stumbling upon awesome movies unexpectedly! Tuvalu stuck out to us when we were scrolling around netflix instant and I'm glad we gave it a shot, because it's really enjoyable. This mostly-dialogue-free film is set in some sort of mysterious, vaguely European wasteland where a crumbling bathhouse is in danger of being demolished by money-grubbing businessmen. Socially inept Anton (Denis Lavant), who can never leave the building due to his lack of shoes, tries to get the structure up to code without alarming his boss, a grumpy, blind old man (Philippe Clay) who takes pride in running the boiler and acting as pool lifeguard. Meanwhile, a beautiful young woman (Chulpan Khamatova) catches Anton's eye, but she's busy fixing up her father's old boat with the hope of eventually sailing away to Tuvalu.

With lovely use of color filters, weird sets, and a good heap of old-timey silent gags, Tuvalu is a strange and beautiful experience. It takes a while to get going, as the viewer must find their footing in this ambiguous, somewhat alarming setting with little expository information, but I got pretty into it as the film progressed. I loved the decaying settings and visual details, which oscillated between humorous and charming. Denis Lavant and Chulpan Khamatova are adorable and goofy as the leads, toying around with these conventional romantic archetypes and making them weird, while surrounded by sublimely weirder supporting characters- most notably the villain with the Eraserhead haircut. The story is a little uneven but the goofy jokes, adventurous spirit, and truly touching moments sprinkled in make for a fun and memorable film that can say so much with so few words. Interestingly, however, the funniest bit is one that does involve dialogue. "Technology! Profit!" Hilarious.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: The visuals and general atmosphere reminded me of Delicatessen, which I've been meaning to revisit for a while. It's the kind of movie I own but rarely watch for some reason.

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