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TRANSILVANIA 2017 Competition

Chrysanthemums Time: Wandering aimlessly


- The second feature by Ukrainian director Dmytro Moiseiev delves into the process of mourning that follows the tragic loss of a loved one

Chrysanthemums Time: Wandering aimlessly

The first thing we see in Chrysanthemums Time [+see also:
film profile
, one of the films being shown over the next few days in the official section of the Transilvania International Film Festival, is a woman lying on a sunbed. The sun caresses her body, which is lounging next to an inviting-looking swimming pool. This relaxing image is juxtaposed with the strident sound of drums that serve as a musical accompaniment to the scene. When the woman’s face is revealed, we see a face gripped by suffering and partially concealed by an enormous pair of sunglasses. Up until this point, everything has seemed confusing, and it is impossible for us to make sense of what we are watching. Dmytro Moiseiev, the director of the film, drip-feeds us information about this mysterious woman. After a conversation with a funeral parlour director, tinged with cynicism and bitterness, we find out that our protagonist has just buried a loved one.

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The movie jumps from one scene to the next. The presence of Olga (the name of the main character, played by Alla Binieieva) is a constant, and we see her interact with a varied range of characters in shots where the camera barely moves. Some of the situations we are presented with serve only to heighten the confusion, while others do manage to shed some light on what exactly happened to Olga and what has caused her state of disorientation. The recent death of her husband and the reproaches of her in-laws for not having tried to avert the tragedy lead the woman to attempt to alleviate her grief by embarking on a journey with no fixed destination, passing through various spots in the city of Kiev.

The portrait of this peculiar process of mourning does little to persuade the viewer to empathise fully with the woman. Often, its reflections on the multiple contradictions of our existence end up feeling more pretentious than revealing. In any case, the film does succeed in moving us at certain points, especially through images in which the frailty of the main character’s body is framed by imposing buildings or depicted lost in the middle of vast open spaces. The movie does occasionally hit the mark in its portrayal of the devastation that follows the loss of a loved one. The ridiculousness of our existence is clear for all to see in the face of such a traumatic event, and finding the correct path again ends up being a near-impossible task.

The disturbing thing about Chrysanthemums Time is that it manages to make a character whom we should want to console and accompany in her sorrow appear, at times, aloof and unpleasant owing to her arrogance and indifference. The film throws up a few interesting ideas and certainly manages to keep us intrigued on account of its queer approach, but it is a pity that it does not go any further or stir our emotions in more of a profound way. 

Chrysanthemums Time is a production by Ukrainian outfit Yizhak Film, which is also overseeing the movie’s international sales.

(Translated from Spanish)

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