Live to Live ★★★½


My capsule review from my NYFF Projections coverage for MUBI:

Laida Lertxundi's work just keeps getting weirder and weirder, and subsequently more and more fascinating. Where several of her previous films have explored particular spaces (interiors as well as landscapes), Vivir para vivir (Live to Live) takes a striking new approach. The film seems to measure or establish relationships to the landscape, or to other objects and events, by using the body as a fundamental locus. While this is what all of us do whether we think about it or not—Phenomenology 101—Lertxundi seems to be registering her own bodily space and its responses as ways to gauge the landscape.

At the beginning, the camera pivots as though we are lost, but we hear a snoring sound, almost establishing the body's life as the anchor and guarantee of safety and, of course, the pole against which "lostness" is defined. Later, we see Lertxundi's EKG, we observe distant hills with the fog rolling out, and we hear a cello. All of these disparate pieces of film would appear to suggest events that are not only perceived by the body but that can establish, or be established by, the body's own time. How does the sound resonate, and how does its resonance alter the body's rhythms? Is the fog relaxing, or does it generate impatience?

By the end, Lertxundi seems to have reduced even sexual excitation to a purely digital state (a pun, perhaps), something that swells and recedes, a literal "turn on" and "turn off." The title itself, "Live to Live," is also a joke of sorts, a play on "art for art's sake." Lertxundi looks upon the bodily processes as aesthetic functions in themselves, systems that have no higher purpose but their own perpetuation and, now with this film, the creation of abstract codes.