AFI Fest 2014: ‘The Absent’ finds a steady rhythm

- Advertisement -

The Absent posterThe Absent (Los ausentes)
Written by Alejandro Mendoza and Nicolás Pereda
Directed by Nicolás Pereda
Mexico/Spain/France, 2014

The Absent is almost a parody of what people who don’t really watch “art films” think they’re like. It is nigh-on plotless, lacking in incident, almost wordless, highly ambiguous, and incredibly slow. It can’t consist of more than a few dozen shots, each of which are either completely still or slow pans. Those shots either contain one, none, or (very rarely) two people. There is precisely one shot with a crowd. There are two scenes that contain any dialogue. It is a tremendously boring experience. It is a little more than 70 minutes long, but feels like it’s three hours.

I quite enjoyed it!

Slow cinema is not for everyone, and I don’t even say that in any way that implies that the “not everyone” includes people who are somehow less intelligent than those on the inside. It’s a matter of taste. When a movie is not in any way trying to arrest your attention in the way that they typically do, it can paradoxically cause you to pay more attention to what’s going on in each frame, and to think on what it may be saying. That’s the case for The Absent, which is ruminating on themes of loss and change. If you’re in a ruminating mood, then it’ll be just the tonic.

The film primarily features an old man who lives alone (save for a cow) in a shack in the middle of the Mexican nowhere. It’s positioned in the midst of a forest close to a beach, and the movie continually rotates between these three locales. That is, except for a detour to a city, where some kind of local governing council decides that the man doesn’t have the right to his land. The poor guy’s evicted, and forced to lurk around in the woods. Meanwhile, a younger man squats in the house and starts going through the same routine the older one used to. They eventually meet up. The house is eventually demolished. They bond and become bros. The movie ends.

The Absent

The Absent finds a steady rhythm in one steady beat of zen shot after zen shot. It’s a hypnotic experience. If what the audience sees on screen isn’t a long take of the ocean or the trees, it’s someone participating in a mundane activity. A man has trouble assembling his gun. He fights his stubborn cow as he attempts to lead it across the beach. He trudges along a muddy track in the forest. A guy wanders into a house not his own and casually changes his clothes. An excavator reduces a house to rubble in seconds with a few casual swings of its boom, like a cat swatting down a Jenga tower.

The images stick with you precisely because the movie lingers on them for so long. And this makes you think about their meaning. The result is a disquieting metaphor for life, for its fragility, and for how cycles of dispassionate progress bury human beings under their march. I dug every dull second of it.

– Dan Schindel

Visit the official website of AFI Fest.

10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
A Saxophonist with a Saxophone in His Hands
12 Different Types of Saxophones
genre titles mash up
The 13 Types of Movies You Can Choose From (Genres)
Crowd enjoying a concert
19 Types of Entertainment – What Do You Like Doing?
Jennifer Lopez Wearing a Black Dress
25 Celebrities Who Don’t Age – What’s Their Secret?
29 Different Types of Food
Zucchini on a Cutting Board
14 Different Types of Zucchini for All Kinds of Dishes
different ice cream
12 Types of Ice Cream (All Forms, Shapes and Options with Examples)
Powdered Sugar in a Bowl and Scoop
10 Different Types of Sugar – I Bet You Don’t Know Them All
Several semi trucks on the highway
19 Different Types of Trucks – Do You Know Them All?
Airplane soaring through the air
19 Different Types of Airplanes that Dominate the Skies
Cars lined up on the road
26 Types of Cars You Can Choose From for Your Ride
Man Riding Bicycle
11 Types of Bicycles – Do You Know Them All?
15 Different Types of Goggles
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
man holding smartphone with vintage case
11 Types of Cell Phone Cases and Covers to Protect Your Expensive Smartphone
Black and Red Tablet Covers
8 Types of Tablet Cases for Kids, Protection, and Convenience
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Photography and Camera Stores
9 Different Types of Website Hosting