Pipeline, the freedom to lose yourself
by Muriel Del Don
- The debut feature film of Genevan director Gabriel Bonnefoy, which was screened in the Panorama Suisse section of the Solothurn Film Festival, is a liberating journey in search of self
Gabriel Bonnefoy presented the world premiere, at the 51st edition of the Solothurn Film Festival, of Pipeline [+see also:
film profile], his mysterious and hypnotic debut feature film with an intentionally independent feel to it. His is an asserted quest for independence tied to the creative process, free from all forms of limitation and restriction. A need for immediacy and spontaneity that compelled him to produce his first feature film outside the classical production and funding system. Pipeline was made possible by crowdfunding in a sort of common effort to support artistic freedom. All in all, this is a feature film that thinks outside the box and reflects Gabriel Bonnefoy’s desire to create with urgency, capturing a fleeting “here and now”. Pipeline is full of a to some extent autistic yet unbridled and incredibly spontaneous energy.
Elliot (the incredible Antonin Schopfer), a slightly hipster thirty-year-old man, is sent to Alaska to carry out maintenance work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Surrounded by a wild landscape that seems to swallow him up, Elliot slowly but surely loses touch with reality. Having forgotten the main purpose of his trip, our young bearded protagonist embarks on a personal adventure during which balance and madness clash to then be reconciled. The unexplored landscape becomes his new home, a sort of atypical refuge where he eventually finds himself. Pipeline is a mysterious film, unique in the way it tries to find a spontaneous and mysterious aesthetic vocabulary. Despite the more direct references to films such as Gerry by Gus Van Sant, Pipeline recalls the formal freedom of the American independent film sub-genre (from New York) Mumblecore, in which the madness of apparently “normal” people prevails over reality. A feeling of solitude and confusion that is also highly present in Gebriel Bonnefoy’s debut film. Elliot longs to abandon himself completely to the mysterious and desolate landscape that surrounds him, aware of the danger but determined to embark on a by-now necessary existential journey.
The irresistible and sensual soundtrack of L’Ironie Du Son, Fabio Poujouly and Guillaume Peitrequin and Nicolas van Deth’s work on the sound envelop the images with a perfect mix of electronic and spot-on environmental sounds. The carefully selected sounds, music and voice of the protagonist blend hypnotically into the images, which become more and more unreal as the film goes on (does the girl who accompanies Elliot on his journey, played by Pauline Schneider, really exist? The protagonist’s voiceover in this atypical road movie give us glimpses into his thoughts (and emotions), the single guiding thread of a journey that increasingly comes to resemble a form of self-psychoanalysis. The poetry that accompanies the images, at times wrapped in contrast, transforms the progressive madness of the protagonist into something majestic. Gabriel Bonnefoy invites us to reflect on the concept of human and artistic freedom, and on the meaning of the word “madness” in a society that would have us all artificially equal. This is a film you have to abandon yourself to without hesitation.
(Translated from Italian)