All atmosphere — 1 year ago
There’s a trend going through film today in which the audience is subjected to long scenes of the mundane. Sometimes (when it works), the gratuitous mundanity becomes lyric – it can set a bleak atmosphere like no other technique. I recently watched 2008’s “Hunger,” which features a three-minute shot of a man cleaning a prison hallway. Without a word, the director managed to portray the daily monotony of prison, the unceasing struggle between guards and prisoners, and an utter lack of hope. It worked because there was a payoff – the long shots not only set up the atmosphere, but there was also interesting characters and a worthwhile plot.
“Liverpool” was not short of long, mundane shots. In fact, the movie is made entirely out of them. However, unlike “Hunger,” there is no payoff. Once placing the audience in a fully realized setting, the director leaves them there with a handful of one dimensional characters and a threadbare plot. “Liverpool” was a frustrating experience because its simple story was appealing, but drowned in too much atmosphere.
I didn’t give it a “Not Worth Consuming” simply because it helped me crystalize my feelings on the mundane shot (or whatever the technical term) and how it can work effectively in film. I don’t recommend it.