"All around hangs a slumber upon these halls and things as yet unfathomed still occur". The Quays' first feature is a real treat to the eyes and ears. It has a dreamlike, somber atmosphere on account of the shimmering black and white photography, effectively accompanied by haunting music of Lech Jankowski. I especially love the gorgeous close up shots of hands and small objects in their works (this and In Absentia).
Robert Walser was an unsung hero of literature, Jakob Von Gunten- the best book ever written. and the Quay brothers just touched perfection. i love the way they carry out the legacy of the writing and focus on otherwise insignificant objects such as a button.
Enigmatic & inscrutable to the point of rejecting almost all logical interpretations, the Quay's sub-textual deconstruction of Walser's novella embraces a dreamlike, almost fairy-tale narrative that envelops rather than compels. While themes of incest, repression & existentialism seem to circle, it impresses more as work of carefully designed & beautifully photographed formalism, where individual sequences stand out.
I think it's a good match in terms of book and directorial style. I'm not sure why I'm harsh towards the Quays. I always think their work could be better, and not so precious, despite the originality of their vision. This time the quality is more dependent on the acting, and they got some top rate actors, and I think that helps.
Very inventive in matters of visuals and sound, but also a bit to narcissistic in presenting the visual enigmas. The film shows that the Quay Brothers handle the short and concise format much better than the long one - a problem they cope with in "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes" in a more compelling way.
Le portrait d'un univers kafkaïen qui ne cesse de se répéter de manière absurde et dont la fin consacre le vide. Mais avant tout une suite de plans, d'images archi belles dans un clair-obscur toujours frappant. C'est bien l'univers des Frères Quay, reconnaissable entre mille.