Future Frames Review: Regained Memory
by Laurence Boyce
- Stijn Bouma’s delicate reflection on time and memory as it prepares to have its world premiere at EFP’s Future Frames during Karlovy Vary 2018
Less Proustian rush and more Proustian languor, Stijn Bouma’s mid-length feature Regained Memory is a well-observed and often moving treatise on the nature of grief and the impermanence of memory. Sharing some of the tropes of the ‘Slow Cinema’ movement – including long takes and carefully composed shots – the film is unafraid to meticulously and gradually unpack the conflicting emotions at the heart of the lead protagonist.
Amir (Salih Palo,who is very good in the lead role) has recently become a widower and becomes devastated when he realises that he can no longer remember his wife’s face. His general torpor – aside from a few moments of brief respite – are also becoming a burden for his young daughter whom, with her father’s distance, is essentially missing two parents. With the help of some friends, Amir begins to unpack his past, finding out some truths about his wife, who is being lost to time, in order to try and gain some control of his future.
“Emina stay and look – this is very important,” pleads Amir to his daughter on the way to a photo gallery. But Emina is more content to move forward and represents the youthful desire to live in the now. This stance represents the dual nature of memory and the past in Regained Memory. On the one hand, the film establishes the importance of being able to reflect and remember. But there’s also an undercurrent of warning – those who dwell too much on the past are doomed to neglect the present. Amir must reconcile these two points of view to be able to live, not only for his daughter, but also for himself. Lukas de Kort’s cinematography emphasises much of this duality. While there are many long takes filled with stillness and silence, there are also measured and careful tracking shots – even in this contemplative atmosphere there is still a sense of forward momentum. When Amir later walks past a piece of pavement that he previously saw photographed in the gallery, there is a sense of hope – he can acknowledge the past but also move past it.
It’s hard to deny the Proustian influence, thanks not only to a title that alludes to one of his most famous works but also to the fact that it takes objects (for example, the rippling water of his daughter’s footbath) to throw Amir into something of a reverie. These moments have a slight tinge of the surreal, in part due to the contrast they provide to the dourer present-day state that Amir finds himself in. These moments are the catalysts for him to consider changing his life.
A product of the Sarajevo Film Academy, Reagained Memory will have its world premiere as part of European Film Promotion’s Future Frames, part of Karlovy Vary. At 50 minutes long – an appropriately ‘Bela Tarr’ type run time in the world of short films – it will find difficulty trying to place itself, and festival visibility will prove challenging for the film. But adventurous festivals looking for a carefully considered mid-length feature will not go far wrong. Certainly, those wanting to highlight new and exciting talent will find themselves well served with Bouma, already an alumnus of Cannes Cinefondation in 2017 with his short film, Lejla.
More information on the film is available here.
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