"Liverpool", de Lisandro Alonso (Los Angeles Weekly)

Liverpool opens with a big blast of neo surf, and coasts on that energy for the movie's 84 minutes, ending with a shot of corresponding impact. Before his freighter navigates Cape Horn, a merchant sailor named Farrel gets permission to take shore leave, explaining (in the movie's talkiest scene) that he wants to find out if his mother is still alive. Then he packs his duffel, goes ashore, eats in a dive wallpapered with an incongruously verdant landscape, visits a lonely strip club, hitches a ride on a flatbed, jumps off in the middle of nowhere, and crosses a snowy field to a rudimentary settlement, where, after dining in the ultimate no-frills cantina, he spies a house that might once have been his own, gets drunk, and passes out. This not-so-excellent adventure is captured, mainly using available light, mostly in middle shot. The takes are long, and real time is frequent. Argentine director Lisandro Alonso's brand of minimalism is funky, uninflected and given to moments of unexpected beauty. The tone ranges between withholding and enigmatic. Landscape trumps character, although the human heart is the central mystery; the emphasis is on the moment, but formalism rules. Alonso has stylistic affinities with an international group of youngish Festival directors — Albert Serra, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Fred Kelemen are the best known — who might be called exponents of New Realism or the New Depressives. Each, though, has his own personal interests. Alonso's involve the riddle of everyday activities and the impossibility of relationships. Before heading back over the snow (to his freighter, to his death?), Farrel gifts the apparently simple-minded girl with some money and a cheap souvenir keychain purchased in a foreign port. In the last (key) shot, she's seen curiously fingering this trinket in the same way you might, after watching Liverpool, ponder the visceral experience that has been lodged in your consciousness like a stone. (J. Hoberman) (Downtown Independent)

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