Thursday, August 14, 2008

En La Ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia)


This film by José Luis Guerín is absolutely an esthetic experience more than anything else, as there is no storytelling, a few words, silences and actual background sounds with the most spectacular cinematography and a camera that contemplates the surroundings, especially women.

I have the feeling of having traveled to that city (Strasbourg, France) during late spring or early summer and wandered around the romantic backstreets of the city together with Him -the main character- that supposedly went there to find Sylvia who he met years before. But I can help but think that perhaps there was no Sylvia… that “looking” for someone is an extremely interesting way to spend some time when you’re in such a beautiful place and you have time to look around and notice the little and quotidian things that you usually take for granted.

This is a beautiful and unusual film that will delight your eyes, as He (the no name main character) likes to watch women and sketch them in his notebook; so you will be seeing a succession of very good-looking women that cross his path and his sight.

Most comments from critics and viewers that liked the movie tend in my opinion to intellectualize this movie and express intellectual words to describe how great this movie is. I do not believe that this movie is intellectual and consequently is should not be intellectualized with long words. This is like experiential cinema, where the succession of great quotidian images provokes in viewers an experience that allows you to travel there, to be there and to appreciate everything around you.

There’s a companion documentary called Unas fotos… en la ciudad de Sylvia (Some photos… in the city of Sylvia) that according to what I read is the original material from where Guerín drew this feature-length film that some consider that the images in vivid colour could be seen as a distraction, as the original material shows black and white photos. Here is an excerpt of an article about the documentary, just to stimulate your curiosity, as mine is already up and will try to see it as soon as possible.

“The black-and-white film breathes with a gentle, elegiac respiration, and invites reflection again and again. The narrator (Guerín himself) reveals himself through his notes placed intermittently over the images, like notes scribbled on a page over a series of quick sketches, or like journal entries. From these notes we learn that Guerín’s search took place during the period of summer to autumn 2004, and the result was this series of beautifully clear images, or ones reflected through glass, or one image superimposed over another – a flow of life.”

Anyway going back to the feature-film let me share with you that was in competition for the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice festival and has been around the fest circuit all over the world where received accolades from critics and viewers.

Absolutely not for all audiences as has no apparent story, but since is such a beautiful film I suggest to my known readers to give it a try and perhaps you will enjoy as much as I did this little voyage that allows tranquil contemplation of beautiful women.

But this is definitively a must be seen for those that enjoy serious cinema.

Big Enjoy!!!

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