Monday, September 03, 2007

viff07: in memory of myself

In Memory of Myself
Italy, 118m

Friday, Sep 28th 3:00pm
Empire Granville 7 Theatre 1

Saturday, Sep 29th 7:00pm
Empire Granville 7 Theatre 1

Italian director Saverio Costanzo's sophomore feature is a world away from the domestic interior of the Palestinian household of his award-winning film Private. The title refers to the erasure of self that occurs when you surrender your individual identity to the greater reality of God. This is the act contemplated by a young man named Andrea, who gives up a life of privilege and choice to enter the carefully prescribed world of a Jesuit noviate. At first glance, Andrea doesn't look like someone who would devote his life to spiritual pursuits, he's young, good-looking and in the midst of a profound crisis of faith, not with God, but with the rest of the world. In the cloistered quiet of the religious order, overseen by the rather severe Father Superior (André Hennicke), the process of becoming a man of God is undertaken one step at a time. It is not an easy journey. Like Andrea, the other novitiates are actively searching for communion and a sense of belonging in an increasingly fragmented and confusing world.

Costanzo is filmmaker unafraid of tackling larger issues, and here he gives the great philosophical questions time and space to resonate. This gravity of purpose is helped along by truly beautiful cinematography. Filmed entirely on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, the seminary with its vast arches and long hallways combines sound and image to stunning effect. "In Memory of Myself bursts with powerful originality and some very deep thinking on screen, along with a tense, involving atmosphere."--Variety

Indiewire: "The compositions have a frieze-like symmetry; the soundtrack is all hymnal swells and echoing footfalls. Evocative and mysterious, the film is also a triumph of functional design..."

Darren Hughes, who saw the film at TIFF, calls the film "one of the strangest films I've seen in quite some time. ... I've gotten in the habit of describing Saverio Costanzo's In Memory of Myself as a genre film, a suspense thriller in which the central, driving mystery is faith. It might be strangest film I've seen all week, with shades of Kubrick and Dreyer and a formal rigor I wasn't expecting and have yet to fully process. I honestly don't know if it's a good film but I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm reserving all judgment until after a second viewing, which I hope comes sooner rather than later."

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