Critique : Song of Goats
par Savina Petkova
- Dans la comédie dramatique dont l'action se déroule en pleine mer Égée, Andrzej Jakimowski opte pour une approche introspective subtile
Cet article est disponible en anglais.
“Who would want to own this?” A rhetorical musing said out loud at the beginning of Andrzej Jakimowski’s newest film sets the tone for the Greek island-set dramedy that is Song of Goats. A small, decrepit wooden door jammed into a crack in the rocky hillside is not a promising-looking entrance to a house, especially one you’ve inherited from your distant uncle. For Andreas (Mateusz Kościukiewicz), that’s exactly the case. Disappointment takes over when he sees the home of Uncle Gerhardt – also known as “the German” among the locals – as a shack, embedded in the steep slopes of an active volcano. A sizeable part of Nisyros island is uninhabited, and these hills are populated with more goats than humans, so no wonder Andreas is not willing to fight for the land.
The opening film of this year’s Warsaw Film Festival, Song of Goats, is writer-director Jakimowski’s fifth feature, and his previous movie Once Upon a Time in November [+lire aussi :
interview : Andrzej Jakimowski
fiche film] was also shown at the festival back in 2018. With the new one, though, he goes for a subtle, introspective approach. The choice of Kościukiewicz (EO [+lire aussi :
fiche film], Mug [+lire aussi :
interview : Małgorzata Szumowska
fiche film]) here is crucial: however malleable his face and body are when performing, this plasticity can be stiffened to the point of mystery when he keeps quiet. That’s why his Andreas is so alluring, because we know nothing about him, and the little we glean from his sporadic calls back to his neurotic mum and sick dad paints him as an avoidant empath. Being enigmatic himself, he quickly falls for mystery in the guise of Lena (Ifigeneia Tzola), the granddaughter of local farmer Yannis (Themis Panou, who won Best Actor at Venice in 2013 for Miss Violence [+lire aussi :
interview : Alexandros Avranas
fiche film]). It’s the comedic back-and-forth among the three that shapes the newcomer’s experience of Nisyros as a place of romantic longing and tough love.
While the land seems barren, with only a single tree growing beneath the volcano, appearances can be deceptive. Nisyros is famous for its white gravel (or kissiri) found in the earth, enriching it with volcanic nutrients, and this becomes a metaphor for Andreas’s search for meaning. A person who’s immediately struck by the beauty of the landscape or the charm of a young woman like Lena can glide over the surface of life without setting down roots anywhere. It’s no wonder that one of the film’s comic recurrences sees him pushing back the day of his return flight to Poland again and again. Andreas feels stuck and doesn’t even want to see the house his uncle has left him. He prefers to sleep in an old truck instead, and for the longest part of the film, we don’t see what’s on the other side of that creaky little door.
Painted in sunburnt colours and enveloped in the sound of the bouzouki, Song of Goats sustains a unique atmosphere that is truly enamoured with the film’s location. It is a loving portrait of Nisyros and conveys a hope for finally belonging somewhere, a challenge faced by most Europeans at some point in their lives. Torn between nations, countries and family histories, Andreas is the quintessential European who weighs up nomadism against settling down, knowing full well he’ll forever be a foreigner. But in this day and age, who isn’t? If you know the value of kissiri, olive oil and goat’s cheese, you’re basically a local, and somewhere, someone will make space for you to dwell and to grow.
Song of Goats is a Polish production involving Studio Filmowe Jakimowski, Filmoteka Narodowa - Instytut Audiowizualny, Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych and Canal+ Polska, in co-production with Athens-based Piece of Cake and Ireland’s Film and Music Entertainment. Kino Świat handles the Polish distribution.
(Traduit de l'anglais)
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