QUICK AND DIRTY: LIVE FROM TALLINN
Backpacking hosteller Eva returns from Japan to Belgrade, where Jay has a package waiting for her. On collecting it, she is surprised at how little it contains (he’s a film director, and it includes a hard drive containing one of his films). She wanders around the Balkans, where Jay (Shogen) shoots her with his camera before introducing himself as an independent film director currently scouting interesting places and people. He persuades her to star in his upcoming film, but when she nearly drowns in a shot where he’s telling her to go further out in a lake, she refuses to complete the shoot, saying he’s self-obsessed.
Later, she meets other people with whom he’s friends who speak of him in glowing terms, and goes in search of him. Unfortunately, he’s nowhere to be found. He has however hooked up with another woman and lived with her for some period of time. By the time Eva has stumbled across the other woman, Jay has moved on. He is working on another film, about an alien searching for his spaceship, so he can return home. Indeed, the woman tells Eva, he is no longer here.
Eva finds the makeshift open air cinema where Jay planned to screen the film he made with her, but never did because he wanted to show it to her first before publicly screening it. In his absence, she later screens a copy of the film there. Meanwhile, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, vox pop interview subjects reminisce about the war and what happened to neighbours, family and friends who left or are no longer alive.
There are elements here that ought to make this film very special indeed, to wit the adept meshing of past, present and possibly future narratives and some visually ravishing locations. Yet somehow, the whole thing comes across as self-indulgent and meandering. Jay (a stand-in for the director, perhaps?) isn’t really believable as an independent film director who everyone in the Balkans seems to know, who makes films up as he goes along and can magic a film crew out of thin air when he needs to.
It’s also hard to believe Eva would have such a bad experience on a film set and then go in search of the vanished director, who treated her so badly at the time, as if he were a deeply cherished and long-lost friend. The subject matter is vaguely reminiscent of the far superior To The Ends Of The Earth (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019), another film about Japanese people wandering round sparsely populated areas of the planet, but altogether a much more compelling and fascinating film without any of the problems inherent in Everything, Everywhere.
Most definitely a festival film, unlikely to reach a wider release.
Everything, Everywhere just premiered in the Rebels With a Cause Competition of the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. Lim Kah Wai is a Malaysian filmmaker based in Japan