September 19, 2005

TIFF Day 9: The Shore

Don't be fooled by the (singular) pretty picture;
this film is the polar opposite of meditative.

The Shore is quite simply the most abysmal film I have ever seen. Lacking direction and believabilty, this remarkably unremarkable film was a treat and a delight to watch--a surprising case study of how to do everything wrong and then some.

The story revolves around the fateful day that Calliope's mother loses her granddaughter Anna on the beach. Calliope rushes home, undiscernibly shaken, and the rest of the summer (read: film) sees the child's disappearance take a heavy toll on mother and parents, each acting hysterical, delusional, mechanical and broken in turn. It's supposed to be about a child's disappearance and how it stirs to the surface the disconnect between the characters. It fails.

What results is a panoply of bad acting, bad writing and bad montage--this film actually does next to nothing right, its only redeemable features, the brief, interrupted performance of the lifeguard on duty and the film's very badness itself; its silly pretention gives it momentum and charm, things the picture certainly fails to offer on its own, its hollow, melodramatic script completely devoid of humour or irony, when in fact it should be full of it, peppered throughout with phrases like:

"SHUT UP! I don't wanna eat my eggs! (SLAP!)"

"Miss, could I have two imported beers please?" and


Anyway, there is a Corvette in the film, and a number of bikini shots, and it is on such needless extravagances (including helicopter and underwater shots and a 30 second sojourn to New York city) that the budget likely blew itself, wounding, more than anything, the acting, cinematography, sound and editing. Oh, that's everything. Bleachy photography, unintentional colour casts (even within sequences) and flat, uninspired lighting; muffled, patchy sound, out of sync ADR and editing that fails to linger (even though it's supposed to be a "mood poem"), lapses repeatedly into flashback, and often juxtaposes high melodrama with fake stripclub scenes (did I mention that the subplot revolves around an unwanted stripclub pregnancy? Hm.) fail to progress the plot, emotional and narrative. Everything rings false and hollow, trite and overdone; completely out of control.

You might think that context or continuity might give these choices purpose and direction, but I promise you, they do not. Inexperienced and pretentious, director Dionysius Zervos has crafted something trying so hard to be something that it is not, that the film literally implodes due to its own incompetence.

It is truly impossible for me to describe how horrendous this picture was except to say that it's an insult to anything that anyone has ever accomplished in cinema, and that therefore, everyone should see it. It was a good time and a definite foregettable highlight of the festival. I can't wait for parts iii & i. What? Exactly.

Official site for The Shore.