Small Gods: Elena's Elegy
Small Gods, a film by Dimitri Karakatsanis, is described as being part of the Belgian new wave film movement. What that means, I'm not sure, but I'm absolutely in love it. While shot on a dismally cheap budget, you would never be able to tell with the gorgeous visuals that play out on screen. The film opens with a teary-eyed David, kidnapping Elena from the hospital after she has lost her son in a car crash. Elena awakes in David's mobile home and little dialogue passes between the two of them. David and Elena become travel partners rescuing a young mute, Sarah, from the side of the road. The three characters are a motley crew, who refuse to fit into the roles given to them by society. David is a compassionate man who goes around hugging people, because he can feel when they need the contact, while Elena does not adhere to gender stereotypes, working the forklift in a factory and being known for her quick, bullish temper. Sarah, whose past is revealed towards the end of the film, has taken a vow of silence and refuses to speak.
The film unravels slowly, switching back and forward between Elena being interviewed by a lawyer, and clips of what happened between she, David, and Sarah. The film is stunningly beautiful. Karakatsanis uses Belgium's hazy landscape and overcast grayness to only deepen the colors and mood of the film. Some of the most beautiful shots between the actors are in silhouettes, where you can only make out the seemingly watercolor painted sky behind them, as their blackened shapes move in and out of the frame.
The only part of this film that isn't fantastic is the soundtrack, which is sometimes it is a little too upbeat for the particular scene it is describing. While the film is slow-paced, Karakatsanis' cinematography is what keeps you interested in each frame until the surprising twist ending. It's nothing like anything I have ever seen before.