TIFF15 REVIEW: Sonámbulo [The Sleepwalker] [2015]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 5 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (Canada)
Director(s): Theodore Ushev
Writer(s): Theodore Ushev / Federico García Lorca (poem “Romance Sonámbulo”)

“Green, how I want you green.”

Animator Theodore Ushev embraces yet another visual style to treat us with at the Toronto International Film Festival. From conté crayon images rotoscoped atop Jafar Panahi in 2012’s Joda to the Cubist/Constructivist homage of 2013’s Gloria Victoria, his latest Sonámbulo [The Sleepwalker] delves into Abstract Expressionism bearing to mind an amalgam of Arshile Gorky‘s painting and Alexander Calder‘s mobile sculptures. It’s all geometric shapes, mostly with curved edges, each dotted as though fabric sewn with seams collaged and brought to life in a gyratory dance to Kottarashky‘s infectious Balkan beats. Oh, there’s a bit of Federico García Lorca‘s poem “Romance Sonámbulo” too.

It starts with the last line of the first stanza “Under the gypsy moon, all things are watching her and she cannot see them” before the biomorphic shape of a woman on her balcony looks out onto a world peering back. She folds into the black void of the frame shortly after as the repetition of figures pulsing and flowing together or in sequence, multiplying and moving to the music, mimics the cyclical nature of the poem. Some forms resemble discernable objects from life and others are closer to cellular organisms floating around invisible to the human eye. And just when we think it’s merely a fun music video, the woman returns in a different form—metaphorically there watching, but forever blind to see.

courtesy of TIFF

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