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Tuesday, After Christmas


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Tuesday, After Christmas is about as truthful a film about the wages of unfaithfulness as I've seen.

That is to say, it's sickening and sad.

If any married man or woman out there entertains notions of infidelity and getting away with it, this film just might save them from themselves. I hear echoes of one character shouting, "What did you imagine would happen?"

And that's the truth of it: Unfaithfulness is a failure of the imagination.

Because a healthy imagination will reveal the lies of such fantasies and plans, and what is more, it will reveal the destruction that will result not only in the lives of those betrayed, but in the hollowing out of the traitor's life and heart.

A very good film. But not for the faint of heart.

This is the first of the inevitable Films I Wish I'd Seen Before Publishing a Best of 2011 List.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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This is a strange tangent, but bear with me. Joanna and I recently started watching Breaking Bad. If you haven't seen the show, it introduces a sympathetic main character at a moment of crisis and then watches as he makes one horrible decision after another. It's just excruciating to watch because, unlike so many movies and tv shows, it's slowly paced and makes us suffer through the messy consequences of every decision, culminating at the end of the third episode, when he kills a man with his own hands. When the scene finally ended, Joanna looked over at me and whispered, "brutal."

It is a brutal and anxiety-causing scene, no doubt, but like I told her, that's what every murder scene on tv should look like. When my folks were in town last weekend, we watched a couple episodes of those murder-of-the-week shows like Bones that they enjoy so much. Each one begins with some new, creative, and ghoulish murder scene that makes the viewer feel nothing but a sick, fetishistic glee. It's gross.

Tuesday, After Christmas exemplifies the moral aspects of long-take filmmaking. Each scene investigates some aspect of the husband's decision, and the film's form doesn't allow us the psychological comfort that comes from traditional continuity editing. We're stuck in those rooms in a more-or-less fixed position with no clear markers for predicting when or how a scene will end, and we're given the freedom to let our eyes and thoughts roam. The moral consequences of what we're watching are heightened--not because these characters are any more "real" than those in a typical film but because our relationship to the drama of their lives is unusually active.

Or something like that.

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Let me echo the praise for this film. I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but films like these always leave me feeling a bit strange--the subject matter itself is heartbreaking and saddening, but the form of the film is just so magnificent that I walk away feeling exhilarated, and, dare I say it, hopeful. Not hopeful for the situation of the characters themselves, but that someone out there gets it.

Anyway, the film is difficult, but Muntean's direction, especially in that 11+ minute climactic scene and in the final scene, points toward something fundamentally true about marriage and about the situation of these characters. I especially responded to the non-verbal communication in those scenes, actions and looks which hint at an underlying unity in the marriage, even as the whole thing seems to be falling apart. There's a real sense of loss in that paradox, as unity and disunity are set in stark relief against one another. Beautifully tragic stuff.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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I especially responded to the non-verbal communication in those scenes, actions and looks which hint at an underlying unity in the marriage, even as the whole thing seems to be falling apart. There's a real sense of loss in that paradox, as unity and disunity are set in stark relief against one another. Beautifully tragic stuff.

This was particularly painful. His direction allows us to see the familiarity between this couple that persists even against their will.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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His direction allows us to see the familiarity between this couple that persists even against their will.

I never would've thought to use the word "familiarity," but now that you have, it occurs to me that familiarity is exactly the quality I most value when judging the success of an on-screen depiction of relationships, in general, and marriage, in particular. That could be the starting point of a really interesting essay.

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For me, part of the odd vibe of Certified Copy developed in the way these two actors bodies seemed so comfortable with bumping into each other, touching each other, sitting next to each other, and even arguing in very close proximity. This is the body language of people that have been with each other for a long time.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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  • 2 months later...

For me, part of the odd vibe of Certified Copy developed in the way these two actors bodies seemed so comfortable with bumping into each other, touching each other, sitting next to each other, and even arguing in very close proximity. This is the body language of people that have been with each other for a long time.

Yes.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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