Spilled Blue Paint for Water
I love this stuff.
Making stories is at root a challenge of surfing between the expected and known and the ambiguous surprise. The further you go into the world of non-linear sense, the more control and skill is required. If the filmmaker and viewer can negotiate a space that works, then the openness of sense allows both parties to imply all sorts of implicit things.
Strictly speaking, there is a sort of sense to this. An obsessive-compulsive boy spends his days painting a picture of a ship rescuing an overturned sailboat. He does this over and over for years, each time going through various dramas over his future as controlled by his mother. Each time, goes deeper, working out on top of the prior day’s work. Because of the obsessive-compulsive repetition, she appears in multiple instances each time. She fights on his behalf to escape his condition, with each attempt either ineffective or making matters worse. Each return carries the despair that it is a return.
This is NOT like the setup in “Groundhog Day”, where each instance of person and event is reset, excepting the main character’s memory. Here, each cycle has entities and consequences that persist and need to be overcome as the repetition carries momentum and has pathology.
We see it not through the boy’s mind (with one exception) but through the mother’s. This as I understand it is clinically correct, through it hardly matters. I see that some commentors have problems. The logic is not carefully worked out, as it is in say: “Primer,” or “la Jetee”. But that is an asset. These are not ‘goofs,’ but openings for us.
It has an Australian actress, one that did not come up through the Austrailan system in Sydney. But she started her career doing folded acting in two great films along these lines: “Mulholland Drive”, and before that the OCD remake of “The Limey”. She works hard and smart here. This is a winner. It (and the fellows name) remind me of another Christopher, Nolan, and his “Following”
The only complaints I have are the ‘explanation’ scenes. I found it patronising to be told what the myth of Sisyphus was. It was unnecessary and inaccurate in any case.
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.