DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

About Endlessness

Director - Roy Andersson - 2020

"Dirty gem"
Roy Andersson's last film is less funny and yet no less potent than his previous features, and it is a fitting swan song for the peculiar Swedish auteur - on various VoD platforms from January 1st, 2020

It might seem preposterous that a brisk 76-minute film could be called About Endlessness. Being a Roy Andersson film, you’d forgiven for thinking this is a joke. This time, the master of Swedish deadpan changes gears and challenges the audience with its most unvarnished portrait of the human condition. Announced as his last movie, it’s a bittersweet swan song of one of Sweden’s greatest directors.

Stylistically, the feature feels of a piece with the filmmaker’s Living Trilogy and fans will recognise his idiosyncratic style from the get-go. Andersson was clearly set on doing something different though, incorporating a narration that guides the viewer through random splices of life in the manner Scheherazade narrates One Thousand and One Night (Andersson himself confessed this is where he got his inspiration from). Like a mystical being, she describes them as half-remembered dreams or memories plucked out of thin air.

At first, a procession of characters show up, profoundly marked by something they lack. A boy without love, a communications manager without shame, a man without trust, and most prominently, a priest without faith. The scene where the latter goes to a psychiatrist looking for help is pure cinematic gold and one of the best of Andersson’s career.

Midway through the film, the focus changes and things get darker, with death – and the characters’s reaction to it – being the subject of many scenes. Death is an integral part of life like anything else. This makes it more beautiful and also more horrific.

It allows for some jarring juxtapositions. The most extreme one is around the 47-minute mark: the shoe heels of a woman snap, suddenly smash cutting to a family murder (a man sobbing, embracing a bloody corpse). “I saw a man who wanted to protect the family’s honour”, the narrator goes, “and changed his mind”. For a couple of minutes, it’s impossible to feel anything but heartbreak.

If you’re thinking none of this looks like material ripe for comedy, you’re not exactly wrong. Andersson toned his humorous tendencies considerably down. He uses fewer surrealistic devices. There’s no outlandish make-up at sight. When he lampoons one of the most despicable historical figures of all time, he does so in a melancholic tone. These all-too-human stories go about themselves unconcerned about punchlines. The outcome is less funny but no less potent.

Unlike its predecessors, About Endlessness is more observational than critical. It accepts wholeheartedly that pain and joy are two sides of the same coin and that one of these is needed for the other one to be perceived.

Back at the psychiatrist office, when the priest asks him about meaning of a godless existence, he replies: “Maybe being content being alive”. That simple philosophy is at the core of About Endlessness – a film that dares, not only to have a potentially preposterous title, but to ask its viewers to look around and marvel at the wonders of everything around them.

About Endlessness is on Curzon Home Cinema on Friday, November 6th. On various VoD platforms from Friday, January 1st (2021).

"Dirty gem"

By Lucas Pistilli - 04-11-2020

By Lucas Pistilli - 04-11-2020

Lucas Pistilli is a Brazilian-born journalist, currently based in Italy, with a passion for cinema and film criticism. He graduated and started out as a lawyer, before branching out to journalism in s...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Another year has gone by, and DMovies is [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]

Read More

Being a Human Person

Fred Scott

Lucas Pistilli - 15-09-2020

Auspicious documentary explores the life and work of acclaimed Swedish auteur Roy Andersson - in cinemas and Curzon Home Cinema on Friday, October 16th (premiere in Camden on Wednesday, September 16th) [Read More...]

Is 65 the new Jurassic Park?


Marina Hillquist - 28-03-2023

Marina Hillquist argues that the American sci-fi action thriller by the creators of A Quiet Place had the potential to unseat the monopoly of the Jurassic Park franchise, but it struggled to escape some familiar trappings [Read More...]

Riotsville USA

Sierra Pettengill

Eoghan Lyng - 28-03-2023

American documentary conducts a probing investigation into one of the USA's most shameful moments in history, the Vietnam War, offering few answers but many damning insights - in cinemas on Friday, March 31st [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *