About Endlessness

About Endlessness ★★★½

Brief, all things considered. Its opening image (also on the one sheet) is its most promising and is later revisited in scene form. The only one of Andersson’s tableaus to feature a transcendent incident, suggestively endless in its sole vision of a future with a European city in ruins. A man and woman in embrace float in the slow fog of ashes, moving in real time, perhaps even in a higher frame rate, against the background. Aesthetically, this is not dissimilar from every other single shot tableau. Time exists only for the subjects while the settings appear to be a specially effected computer freeze with an extreme long range of focus and patterns of incident. The only narrative to speak of is a priest who has lost his faith, reckoning with eternity. Characteristically for Andersson it is all very droll, who remains the poet laureate for male pattern baldness and pancake makeup existentialism, with the world so powdered and blanched its occupants seem closer to despairing spirits in Sisyphean loops than a mundane society (this is of course the idea). Because the scenes range so disparately from Hitler’s last moments in the bunker to young contemporary women cheerfully dancing before restaurant patrons, there is no pronounced accumulation of theme or meaning except in an abstract, atmospheric way. By combining the articulate absurdity with the narration’s succinct descriptions, all the images come to feel like cruelly ironic sketches in a moral picture book of human existence; it is the comedy that attaches before and overshadows the phlegmatic and, only occasionally, compassionate mien. Most scenes play out as a punchline waiting for a joke, or vice versa. The thesis must stand in the equivalency of its incidents standing side by side against the horizon of all time.

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