Staying Vertical

Staying Vertical ★★★★

The most striking shot has to be the otherworldly image of the newborn being squeezed out from its mother's womb, as if to say that life, i.e. the mere fact of being alive, is strange and magical (or alternatively that Nature sure works hard to bring us into this life, considering how little joy we find once we get here) - and there is indeed an uncanny quality to this minor-key movie, its spare, witty contours seeming to contain a whole world. The landscape adds to the spell, the rolling fields and occasional pools of water - plus a glimpse of a town where the shapes of the trams echo the sinuous curves of mountain road - the fact that we keep ending up on the same five people also adds to the spell, yet the world is rich nonetheless: there are wolves (or the fear of wolves) to invoke Death or Evil, an innocent baby - used as wolf-bait, held as a kind of marker while its dad fulfils his obligations, finally lost altogether and replaced by a lamb - a woman who behaves like a man, an old man who's no longer 'a man', plus the Object of Desire who seems to end up with everyone else except our hero. By the end, with the title explained, the feeling of a self-contained (albeit small) world is overwhelming.

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