Strangers, an elegant tribute to film noir
by Muriel Del Don
- Lorenz Suter's first feature, presented at Solothurn Film Festival, is a deliberately independent film that lays claim to a creative process that goes against the grain
Already addressed in the short film, The Man Who Did Not Want Anything (2009), the noir genre creeps back into the filmography of young Swiss director Lorenz Suter. Strangers [+see also:
interview: Lorenz Suter
film profile], his first feature film premiering at Solothurn Film Festival in the Panorama Suisse section, takes possession of its hidden meaning, revealing its true essence. Strangers is a mysterious film dominated by a melancholic and sensual atmosphere.
Tamás (36 years old) has never really wanted to connect with the world or its inhabitants. The only exception to this implicit rule is Norika (Jeanne Devos), a mysterious and elusive young woman who enters his life almost by chance. Norika suddenly disappears, leaving no trace, like a ghost, or a hallucination. Her sister, Annika (Marina Guerrini) alerts the authorities and Tamás becomes the number one suspect. Annika states that the latter wouldn't leave them alone, following them and stalking them relentlessly. But what really happened? Is someone lying, or can reality itself be simultaneously numerous and ambiguous? Tamás doesn’t give up and sticks to his version of the "truth," as if it were his only reason for living. Starting off as a simple flirtation, the relationship between the three characters evolves into a love triangle with consequences that are as unexpected as they are disastrous.
Strangers is a declaration of love for film noir and the melancholy aura that surrounds its anti-heroes, lost in a world that they do not seem to want to belong to. Tamás, brought to life with absolute perfection by Nicolas Batthyany, belongs to this category: a mysterious and elegant character condemned to solitude. His daily life is marked by the ritual gestures (buying the newspaper, cigarettes, preparing coffee...) that imprison him and at the same time reassure him. He is indifferent to the world around him and prefers to hide out in his apartment in the old city of Zurich, a sort of refuge where time seems to have stopped. Norika and her sister Annika are the only people invited into his world of self-imposed loneliness. The ambiguous relationship that they weave around themselves like a spider's web soon turns into tragedy, a Freudian tragedy where the unconscious, daydreams and repressed violence go hand-in-hand. The plot doesn't particularly matter, what matters is the feeling of loss that emanates from the images, a sort of poisonous companion to a multi-faceted reality.
Strangers imposes itself as a deliberately independent film, laying claim to a spontaneous and open-minded creative process that goes against the grain. The result is surprising, a sort of hybrid creature that is reminiscent of both the cruel elegance of Melville's films and the quiet and mysterious force of the Swiss Alps.
(Translated from Italian)
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