Cherry Pie: The uncompromising portrait of a drifting character
by Muriel Del Don
- With his first feature Lorenz Merz offers us a complex film, claustrophobic in places, that depicts a dangerously charming and decadent Lolita Chammah
Cherry Pie [+see also:
film profile], the new opus from Lorenz Merz, the young Swiss director who already has a Quartz (2009) for best short film (One Day and Nothing), talks of solitude, of remorse and of the impossibility of escaping from an ungainly past. Zoé is trying to escape from herself, from the mistakes that have branded her life, leaving behind her desolate and bleak landscapes populated by human beings that are insensitive to the suffering of others. Zoé seems to be living in a bowl, like a goldfish that opens its mouth without making a sound. Hidden in the boot of a car driven by a mysterious female figure, our anti-heroine finds herself on a ferry that takes her to England. The sudden disappearance of the car owner allows Zoé to steal her identity. Dressed in her fur coat and in possession of her house, our protagonist enters an unknown world.
When the viewer meets Zoé everything has already happened off-screen, in an imaginary place where every hypothesis is valid. Her tired face and the marks left on her skin by the remorse and torment of a difficult life are the only clues that allow us to hypothesize about what pushed her to leave everything behind. Her getaway is desperate, uncontrolled, without a specific objective that would allow her to continue along with dignity. Zoé gradually enters into a catatonic silence that increasingly removes her from reality; it's as if the world that surrounds her no longer affects her, as if the terrible memory of what happened makes her impervious to the present. The viewer watches her pilgrimage from the often uncomfortable position of someone who is face-to-face with (close-ups that pursue the protagonist) the decadence of a drifting soul. The main character (the incredible Lolita Chammah), bares all, she literally crumbles before the powerless gaze of the audience.
Lorenz Merz captures the protagonist's moods thanks to silver shading photography that creates a desperate, phantasmal atmosphere. Our Swiss director can also be very cruel to his character that is pestered at times by a hand that appears from behind the camera, as if he wanted to brutally awaken Zoé from her unsettling slumber. Violence, that was probably part of her past, reappears in the present as if to remind her that running away won't heal her raw wounds.
Cherry Pie is an intense drama between two people: the protagonist and the director who forget themselves in a decadent waltz with a final scene worthy of Anna Karenina. The trust between these two people is absolute, in the same way the actress surrenders herself completely to the director. Lorenz Merz doesn't let the actress or the audience catch their breath. The audience endlessly tries to uncover the mystery that pushes Zoé towards the abyss. The excellent soundtrack (music by Marcel Vaid) provides an added layer of mystery and ambiguity to the film. This is a film about regressive apathy that leaves no viewer indifferent.
(Translated from Italian)