The Strange Little Cat ★★½

Idle but slightly tense slice of life about a family's comings and goings over a single day in a flat in Berlin; nothing much happens, just a few meaningful glances and some amusing exchanges, plus kids being kids, young adults being young adults, etc. This is the kind of arthouse that I must confess I really don't fully comprehend -- I just don't have the brain, I suppose, to ascribe significance to such a vague, largely nonexistent story, or to read anything much into it except that some of the characters are charming, others make me nervous -- but my usual criticism of wispy, slight films of this nature (see Exhibition) is that they seem too easy to me. Too easy to write, that is, easy to just vomit out a bunch of random happenings and conversations without really structuring them; maybe that's projection but it tends to irk me. (I also suspect this is why I've never liked Tarantino much, as he tends to write characters who sound like they're just people who love to talk, and specifically who love to say whatever comes into their heads. There's no editing, or restraint, involved.) But that doesn't really apply to what Ramon Zürcher does here. I'm quite impressed by how convincingly natural these low-key events and exchanges are, and I have to imagine it was a painstaking process to give them the lilting, slow feel of a lazy weekend afternoon disrupted by the bustle of people moving around; equally it's striking how he captures the complexity of familial relationships, from the congenial to the clearly chilly. The actors are uniformly excellent. (I've read one review here on Lboxd that indicates that to a native German speaker, the dialogue is much less realistic and has a stilted, Wes Anderson-like quality.) Forgive the oddness of the comparison but it reminded me of the first act of "Bart vs. Thanksgiving," which always seemed extremely real and palpable a capturing of the "feel" of holidays as I remember them, and I suppose that itself owes something on a grander scale to the first hour or so of Fanny & Alexander. Still, philistine that I am, I kept wanting there to be some sort of arc, for the whole structure to be leading somewhere, and it never did -- and that's the point, which I understand, but I guess I'm just not made for this kind of thing.