Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Nothing Personal

Too detached ...

After finding herself alone and detached from society, an unnamed woman (Lotte Verbeek), backpacks through Ireland seemingly wanting to lead a solitary existence. With no more than the clothes she has on her back and some utensils like a small tent, the woman discovers an isolated house belonging to Martin (Stephen Rea) who also appears to be living his life alone.

Nothing Personal tells an intriguing story of loneliness and this becomes quite apparent due to the less than normal use of dialogue, minimal use of accompanying music, controlled camera shots and the muted colour scheme which fills every scene. All of these traits slowly increase as the film continues, and from a visual and audio manner it is great to see the relationship between the woman and Martin develops. The narrative uses a linear flow but it becomes quite a shame that it is broken into noticeable chapters: each chapter begins with a black screen and a word, such as 'marriage'. Beyond hurting the flow of the film these wordings do not exactly portray the tangible events about to occur, but rather abstractly feel as if the director needed to guide the viewer into a particular point of thought in regards to the events about to take place. This guidance erodes at the loneliness theme of the narrative and inevitably makes it more difficult for the viewer to truly appreciate the resonance of story and the characters. An aspect which could have gotten a little extra information for story purposes is in regards to the history of both main characters. By the conclusion, the plot ultimately retains an element of uncertainty as it is difficult to truly gauge the strength of the conclusion on characters who the audience knows almost nothing about.

While neither Verbeek nor Rea provide strong acting performances both are adequate in depicting the different means by which people approach a feeling of isolation. Rea's character takes a more traditional approach to the experience whereas Verbeek seems somewhat off-the-wall. This is not a bad thing as this helps to differentiate the characters and make them more unique, but some of her actions can seem rather odd in an almost overly poetic manner.

Nothing Personal marks the full-length feature debut for Urszula Antoniak. Her control on scenes really does allow for some lovely landscape imagery, if muted by the colour scheme and harsh weather that surrounds the film, for the viewer to gaze up. It all works in enhancing the reclusiveness of the characters and the visual aids thus synch nicely with the thematic elements being explored. This naturalness is barred by some odd editing problems which occur infrequently.

The film contains no violence while language is strong but used rarely. One scene could constitute as sexual in nature but otherwise there is none to speak of, yet breast nudity does feature in two or three scenes.

There is an emotionally powerful story to be told within Nothing Personal and this is noted by a wonderful use of minimal music and colour variety, however it never really succeeds as expected. The narrative does a decent job on impressing the experience of loneliness onto the viewer but, it is unfortunate that Verbeek and Rea are unable to find the connection between their respective character and the narrative material, and the story can feel thin when the credits roll. Still, Nothing Personal is not a film which should be easily dismissed.


Screen date: 24 July 2010
Release date: N/A (Durban International Film Festival)