Sunday, June 13, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: Roaring 20s

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

Roaring 20s
Directed by Elisabeth Vogler
International Narrative Competition – Screening Information

It’s difficult to know exactly what the world will be like when society truly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased availability of vaccines and steady decline in number of cases in many parts of the developed world have helped to begin the transition back to normalcy, but the habits formed and activities affected during this time will surely have a lasting impact that will forever change the way certain things are done. What can be assessed at the moment is what the world looks like now, and how that snapshot foretells what might be to come for some near or distant future.

This film presents one continuous take inviting audiences to experience Paris, jumping from conversation to conversation as people move about the streets of the city. They discuss things as important as love or identity, and stop to ask for a cigarette or the best station to exit the metro to reach a desired destination. Most segments feature two people talking to each other with a degree of familiarity that offers a window into who they are after just a few minutes of dialogue, and others offer precious little information and serve merely as the conduit from one unbroken scene to another.

This film is a mesmerizing, involving delight, one that has no lead but instead stops to spend time and truly be with each of its characters, regardless of how short their appearances may be or how insignificant they may seem. For the duration of their time onscreen, they are the only focus, until the camera pans to someone else and the story travels with them to wherever they’re going. It’s a device that has been used before and plays out exceptionally well here, just as effective when words are merely being exchanged as when music kicks in and the true power of being alive can be felt.

While this film was shot last summer during the pandemic, it doesn’t stop much to dwell on that as being the defining aspect of each ensemble player’s existence. In fact, the first time characters don masks, as they descend into the metro, it’s an unspoken and almost insignificant transition that speaks to the way in which, for the most part, people persevere and adapt without losing themselves along the way. This concept could be set at any time in any city, but there’s something so wonderful specific and grounded about it that makes it both a marvelous and creative movie and a moving and lasting time capsule.


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