Return To Forms

Return To Forms ★★★½

Return to Forms starts off with an exploration of the synthetic: the textures of synthetic materials, the delicacy of synthetic pop, and the sheen of the synthetic surface. There's a long tracking shot, almost a virtual tour, through the interior of a furnished apartment that outlasts the music. A facile reading, especially of the first half, would be a vaporwave-y comment on consumer culture.

It left me feeling a bit more ambiguous, in part because I'm incapable of viewing Lesley Gore's presence as a negative. Her songs are beautifully contrived, and she brings an emotional heft, one that resolves early and abruptly. I get a similar tactile sensation from the pale pink shots of a really pretty (faux?) fur rug. (Incidentally, both are a nice reminder that I'm overdue to rewatch Kustom Kar Kommandos.) The rug reappears, but obstructed by someone putting on barefoot shoes and going for a walk. The sense of touch is still salient, but attention shifts toward how we relate to these objects in our daily lives.

The outdoor scenes seem to focus on spaces where manmade and natural structures intersect, like the waterfall and tea gardens in Soma or a building with ivy growing up. There's a similar building—this time a reflective tower—flanked by palm trees. These are pretty loaded images for me, in part because a few of the locations are a part of my daily life but also because of their connotations given the ongoing development of the Bay Area. It seems pretty intentional, given the connections to the interior shots.

Either way, it builds to a (second) great closing. The camera pans across the glass building, the trees, and the distorted reflections of the trees. The reflective surfaces blend with the organic more and more rapidly. It leads up to a tablet with a plant growing through it. It's surrounded by more mirrors to form a kaleidoscope of the two textures. It's a bit of a violent image with the shattered glass, but there's something optimistic in the smooth, shiny surfaces being pierced by a living plant. (But hey, it's not like it survived long like that, so what do I know.)