REVIEW:Genius Loci [2021]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 16 minutes
    Release Date: 2021 (France)
    Studio: Kazak Productions
    Director(s): Adrien Merigeau
    Writer(s): Adrien Merigeau & Nicolas Pleskof

I’m going to sit here and wait a while for a sign.

With its esoteric dialogue and often cacophonic score incorporating foley sound effects with the melody that also double as the driving rhythm upon which the visuals are cut together, Adrien Merigeau‘s Genius Loci (co-written by Nicolas Pleskof) eschews traditional narrative for a beat poet aesthetic that embraces disorder on a journey through time and space. Reine (Nadia Moussa) is at once present in her sister’s apartment (watching a pot boil over upon the stove while simultaneously watching a baby in a crib) and elsewhere either in her past, future, or imagination to find friends, music, and abstract visions of kaleidoscopic animation breaking apart and reforming with little meaning to discern beyond the emotional impact of its colorful motion and anxiety-inducing scenes of physical and psychological transformation.

Things move from the thick brushstrokes of watercolor to the rough crayon-filled fields of geometric shapes—Cézanne to De Kooning, impressionism to abstract expressionism—all while continuing to circle back to a reality forever threatening to dismantle itself down to symmetrical shapes of black and white precision. Reine is at once herself, her essence, and a dog running through the streets after standing still for too long to embrace the chill vibe of an impromptu concert amongst friends. Her loner attempts to isolate herself from the noise of the world, an introvert trapped in a mind that can’t be bothered with explanations or etiquette when the noise becomes too much to bear. So she escapes into dream and/or nightmare, the city’s sounds and sights guiding her back home.

You either let yourself absorb its atmospheric mood or construct your own barriers to hold its eccentricities and amorphous consciousness at bay—there’s no middle ground. Those who need plot will be let down, but hopefully they’ll embrace its ability to almost exist on a level above design to both erase the need and repurpose the loosely drawn backstory of a woman lost in a world of her own as a framework anyway. There’s a lot to relate to then for those who find themselves perpetually on the outside looking in. The wallflowers. The observers. The sensory sensitive who cannot stay in one place for too long before taking their leave on a whim and without notice. Some rein in chaos. Others dance amidst its discord.


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