Liverpool: Another Landscape Movie From Lisandro Alonso

As with his previous films, Argentine director Lisandro Alonso's Liverpool is defined by its trajectory. A taciturn merchant sailor named Farrel (Juan Fernández) travels to his desolate Tierra del Fuego hometown after explaining, in the movie's talkiest scene, that he wants to find out if his mother is still alive. Then he packs his duffel, goes ashore, eats in a dive wallpapered with an incongruously verdant landscape, visits a lonely strip club, hitches a ride on a flatbed truck, jumps off in the middle of nowhere, and crosses a snowy field to a rudimentary settlement, where, after dining in the ultimate no-frills cantina, he spies on a house that might once have been his own, gets drunk, and passes out. This not-so-excellent adventure is captured, mainly using available light, mostly in middle shot. Alonso's brand of minimalism is funky, uninflected, and given to moments of unexpected beauty. The takes are long, and real-time is frequent. The tone ranges between withholding and enigmatic. Landscape trumps character, although the human heart is the central mystery; the emphasis is on the moment, but formalism rules. (See nwfilmforum.org for Alonso's prior films being screened this week: La Libertad, Los Muertos, and Fantasma; he will also pay a visit for this retrospective.)

 
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