Review: 100 Seasons
by David Katz
- Professional dancer Giovanni Bucchieri’s first feature is an exploration of his struggles with bipolar disorder and his unprocessed feelings about his first true love
In his transition to feature filmmaking, Swedish dancer and choreographer Giovanni Bucchieri unquestionably hasn’t left his previous métier behind. He proves in his debut, 100 Seasons [+see also:
interview: Giovanni Bucchieri
film profile], which premiered in the Tiger Competition at the just-concluded edition of IFFR, that he certainly knows how to open a film with a kick or, more accurately, a gracefully balletic heel-swerve. We first meet Giovanni, playing himself in this fictional fantasia of his own life, dancing a perfect imitation of an old video recording from his past, projected lopsidedly onto his bedroom wall. For a viewer not aware of his prior CV, the effect is startling, like encountering Lady Gaga in her recent film roles as a comfortable actress with equally impressive pipes.
Yet from the evidence of 100 Seasons, Bucchieri has composed a star vehicle and cine-memoir for himself sans absolute mastery of his new craft. Whilst always lively and continually throwing new ideas into the air, as if overturning a dressing-up chest, it’s an underwritten and haphazardly structured piece, failing to provide great insight into his affliction with bipolar disorder by mainly playing it for laughs, and flirting with aspects of the “incel” mentality through his pining and elaborate fantasies over his lost love Louise (Louise Peterhoff, who had a small role in Midsommar).
Bucchieri commits to a dual narrative path, juxtaposing his travails in apparent unemployment and creative block with those of Louise, a successful dance theatre director currently in rehearsals for a ballet adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. But in a baffling manner, given the lack of overt references to her in his own segment, we see an impressive array of camcorder footage of them together, in the throes of first love at a dance academy, and then, more perplexingly, in amateurish genre-exercise vignettes of them in 18th-century costume drama garb in front of a palatial estate, and then aboard a spaceship orbiting the Earth. For Louise’s more compelling segments, Giovanni is a structuring absence, his anarchic sense of play putting in perspective her attempts to crack the Romeo and Juliet adaptation and to deal with her dance troupe’s mutinous responses. In the domestic space, she also disapproves of her late-adolescent daughter’s burgeoning relationship with her boyfriend, which plays as peculiar in liberal Sweden, but comes across as a more down-to-earth neurosis in contrast with her ex’s larger-than-life romantic longings.
As it continues, the thought arises that 100 Seasons is better considered as a performing-arts showcase, rather than a sturdy narrative drama, with the line between self-revelation and showing off very thin for Giovanni. This is encapsulated when he dresses up as Thriller-era Michael Jackson – decked in accurate garb of fedora and single white, sequinned glove – and performs an enthusiastic dance impersonation on the corner of a sleepy suburban high street, as passers-by duck out of the bakery and post office to glimpse the ensuing madness. Then this sequence reaches its “WTF” apex when a jump cut renders Giovanni fully nude, his manhood proudly on show, and the bystanders make their wise exit. A further naive directorial and storytelling touch, it gives additional meaning to his goal of artistically bearing all.
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