Roy Andersson comes back to the silhouette vignette style of filmmaking on his new and potentially final film, About Endlessness.
Andersson is an interesting Swedish director who has been making films since the late 1960s. Even though he has been working for quite a while, he only has six narrative features in his filmography, with a twenty-five-year hiatus between his second and third feature films, Giliap (1975) and Songs from the Second Floor (2000).
About Endlessness is best described as a series of vignettes, short stories that echo the different aspects of human life. It touches upon the beauty of the simple things, to the sheer cruelty that stabs you in the back, the wondrous grandeur and the upsets and predictability of life. It gives us short, inconsequential moments that help the viewer access the world of the people involved through a simple yet hardened mirror.
A couple floating over a war-torn Cologne, teenage girls dancing around a café, a dad stopping to tie the shoelaces of his daughter while it rains, a priest mentally struggling because he lost his faith, and so on. Short stories that show what is perpetually human and the fragility of what it is to exist. The audience is guided through these stories by an omniscient voice, starting with the phrase “I saw a man/woman who…”.
Most of these moments in the film are still, shot with no camera movement or dialogue. There is a touch of comedy between the simple and the mundane that will put a grin on your face. The different settings that the film shows feature a similar colour palette consisting of different blues, greys, and whites. That may bother some people because it seems repetitive, but it meshes well with the film’s reflections.
About Endlessness feels more like an experience than a film, which is one of its biggest problems. The film does not hit all the right notes because it feels like a subsidiary version of the director’s past work. It is not as memorable nor impactful in comparison, lacking a bit of the much-needed glazed surrealism and deadpan comedy that his Living Trilogy (Songs from the Second Floor, You, the Living, and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence) features.
In conclusion, About Endlessness is a film with some short moments of beauty and happiness but focuses more on the banality of human life. It’s not close to Andersson’s best work, but it has his unique style and essence that elevates the film to a state where some scenes will stick with you.
In a scene’s setup with Hitler’s appearance Roy Andersson copied the painting titled “The End” depicting Hitler during his final days in his bunker in Berlin by Kukryniksy.