Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Evil Does Not Exist

Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist, currently playing at Film Forum, is an Enemy of the People—with the whole town rising up against a project that pollutes their water. If you remember Drive My Car, the director’s previous film, is about multilingual producrton of Uncle Vanya (amongst many things). Evil Does Not Exist is far simpler. A glamping company, Playmode, is developing a site in which the septic tank is only partially adequate to protect an otherwise pristine landscape. But Hamaguchi continues the theatrical metaphor. Playmode is actually an entertainment company and its representatives are PR types rather than experts on environment.There are three elements of style that are prominent right away, every scene with a car is shot through the rear window (like the pollution affecting groundwater). There are extremely long takes which run throughout the film (like the first in which the camera pans through trees). Almost all these perserveratiing scenes are interrupted in medias res, as if someone were being interrupted in the middle of a sentence. There's a masterful moment in the last scene which is shot from the point of view of Takumi (Hitoshi Omika), the local jack of all physical and spiritual trades which at first hides its truth in an abstract landscape. It's painting of terror come to life. Drive My Car was epic both in length and complexity. Here there is far less information. Nature rather than culture is the dominant theme, but the title of the movie is puzzling. Plainly evil does exist.

listen to "Fortnight" by Taylor Swift

and watch "Terminal Bar" by Stefan Nadelman

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