Persona Review

I have always had a feud with movies which thrive on metaphorical images to derive meaning to the narrative. Cinema is a layman’s art form and I firmly believe that every individual who walks into the cinema hall should walk out of it a little changed in terms of his persona. The viewing experience should induce in him emotions of any kind such that the man who walks out of the cinema hall should be more human in nature than the man who walked in.

I have always found that the movies which base the essence of their narratives on metaphorical images evade such experiences to the viewer. If the viewer is unable to comprehend their meanings, he/she walks out of the cinema hall with plain frustration and nothing else. And if the viewer does succeed in comprehending their meanings with repeated viewings, then I believe he/she experiences only admiration towards the artistry of the story-telling process. But none of the emotions surface in the viewer in any of these repeated viewings. It is no different from a student trying to comprehend the working of an electromagnetic field. It is an experience which involves only an attempt for comprehension, leaving no space for emotions.

Metaphors if used for enhancing the effect of storytelling work wonders. Take the scorpion on the back of the Driver’s jacket in Nicolas Refn’s Drive or the rain of frogs in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. Magnolia had a tremendous emotional impact on me without any comprehension of the rain of frogs, but the understanding of that sequence further added to my love of the film. But that doesn’t mean my first viewing experience was destroyed by my incomprehension of that salient sequence.

This is where movies like Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, and the movie in question, Ingmar Bergman’s Persona fail artistically in my humble opinion. Although my writing may give the impression that I have no explanation of the events that transpired in Persona, it is quite the opposite. In my analysis, Elisabeth Vogler is a method actress and Sister Alma is the character she is bound to play in her next performance. However, when perfecting the emotions and persona of Alma, she finds in the character a reflection of the troubles of her own personal self, such as her conflict with motherhood and devotion to her profession. However, she overcomes these hurdles as the movie progresses, which seems to be the reason I attribute to her smiling at tense conflicts.

But what fun is such a movie which is nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle at its best ? I cannot imagine watching it again after I have come up with a sensible explanation about the events in the movie. What is art if not for the emotions it invokes ? Persona is a failure as a movie for it fails it evoke none.

RATING :- 3.9 / 10


Contagion Review

All great art is about something deeper than it cares to admit. On the surface Contagion maybe about a global pandemic, but beneath its masterfully crafted layers, it is about the only thing in the world that seems to spread faster than the virus in question in the movie – fear.

Steven Soderbergh uses the same hyperlink narrative style he popularized with his 2000 hit Traffic, and surprisingly, it yields even better results. Far reaching in its scope, Contagion brings about a feeling of oneness gradually through its narrative, in my opinion to highlight the collective emotions of empathy and fear the world trembles with irrespective of nationality in the times of such a pandemic.

Any talk about this movie would irreverent if it does not deem the medical world aspect of this tale worthy enough to broach. More than anything, I appreciated Contagion for not dumbing down its content so as to suit the general audiences. Although I am sure Soderbergh kept the science intact because of his integrity towards his work, it further accentuates the tension the movie generates because our incapability to comprehend the technical complications of dealing with a pandemic of such seriousness further helps in creating a feeling of helplessness in our minds. This helplessness further brought me closer to the hearts of the people in Contagion who live in constant fear not because of the deadly nature of the virus, but because of their ignorance and disillusioned nature regarding the resolving of this issue.

With a cast so large and so talented, it will be monotonous on my part to call out each one of them and appreciate them, forĀ  every cast member shines in their role. However, I wouldn’t get a sound sleep tonight if I do not mention how Kate Winslet gives a shattering performance as Dr. Erin Mears. Whenever she is onscreen, Winslet establishes herself as the emotional backbone of this movie which is a stellar achievement in a cast that includes the likes of Marion Cotillard and Matt Damon among others.

The only fallacy in this near-perfect movie seems to be the sub-plot involving a blogger who utilizes this pandemic to generate profits. While I cannot make a case against the fact that this subplot falls short compared to others, this movie could not have been complete without it as well. How can a movie about the wide-reaching effects of a pandemic gives miss to the culpability the fourth estate amounts to in such situations ?

Contagion is a spine-tingling experience which goes about its matters in a discreet manner, and in turn, succeeds in creating an atmosphere which helps the viewer to pay attention and feel empathy for all the characters of this movie who are interspersed geographically but connected emotionally. And the last five minutes of this movie make a good case for it to contain the scariest ending of any movie ever made till date.

RATING :- 9.4 / 10