What is hidden in the space of silence? Muffled screams, broken dreams, lonely heartbeats, unspeakable violence and sudden revenge. And so, where the word stops, the eyes open, witnessing a world inhabited by (few) angels and (too many) sinners. And that built as a hybrid from Denis Villeneuve, between worlds of craftsmanship, and digital environments, it is truly a no-man’s land marked by increasingly blurred boundaries and beaten by quest in which the search for good is mixed with evil, justice embraces hatred, and fear subverts hope.
Denis Villeneuve’s films are deserts crossed by disoriented characters, who move in fear in search of their lost humanity. These are unique moments in an introspective gallery marked by the loss of humanity, or even worse, by its lethal combustion, as suggested by the macabre repetition of the image of mummified and / or burned bodies (Prisoners, 32nd August, La donna che cantta) . Dressed in reality, hers is a fictional invoice based on narrative bodies set between the heartbeats of apparently real existences. The world of Denis Villeneuve is therefore a brutal macrocosm populated by ambiguous figures placed on the abyss of obsession, or of the most sinister violence. A gallery where the human embraces bestiality, and the inhuman becomes more human than the human being himself. A dichotomy revived with courage and consistency, even in the last, majestic, Dune. Denis Villeneuve does not limit himself to approaching the gallery of works that preceded him, accepting with philological respect every aspect that characterizes the genre of belonging, but overturns them from the inside, makes them his, folds them, filtering them with the strength of his own authorial vision. The result is a mental, introspective and interior cinema, channeled by an ordinariness that is a creative forge and container of ghosts, monsters and ghosts of the mind, disowned and dissociated memories, fallacious mechanisms of the human brain. And it is precisely from this speaking silence, a soundproof container and at the same time an amplified box of unspoken and fears blocked on the map of gazes, that a gallery of actants that inhabit universes of distressing borders and silences makes its way. So make yourself comfortable and let yourself be lulled by the silence of a universe ready to rewrite the basic formulas of film genres. A universe that we can begin to know thoroughly through the 5 best films by Denis Villeneuve.
1, THE SINGING WOMAN
Denis Villeneuve’s is a cinematic gaze supported by the strength of courageous women destined not only to be bearers of the evils of the world, but also to attack and overcome them with the power of a word kept unspoken, or a look now low, now thrown head-on. high. It is a Dante’s universe, that of Villeneuve, in which women take on the role of guide, a sensitive and courageous Virgil, who takes the spectator by the hand, launching him into a theater of dichotomies and ethical reversals. An investigation started from the earliest stages of his career (Polytechnique), and then continued in that work that acts as a watershed between the experimental phase of Canadian origin and the Hollywood affirmation: The woman who sings. If it is true that childhood is a knife stuck in the throat that cannot be pulled away easily, the journey taken by the twins Simon and Jeanne to reconstruct the pieces of an incomplete and lost maternal past, turns into an obstacle course of empathy. and suffering. The woman who sings is a drama of women struggling with a world dominated by the violent madness of insane men. Villeneuve thus constructs an essay on the strength of women, mixing the pain of a country in its universality with that of a woman in her particularity.
What does it mean to be good? And who are the really bad guys? Denis Villeneuve intervenes in the universe of Mexican cartels, to make that thin line between victims and executioners even more blurred. Following the descent of FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) into the underworld of the human soul devoid of rationality and dominated by animal instincts, in Sicario opposites lose their boundaries. Those who are called to save and defend us turn into machines of the most blind revenge, while criminals and the scum of society rise to the role of innocent victims. In this merry-go-round of death, the gaze of the protagonist remains faithful to itself, a privileged and at the same time cursed witness of the nefarious unions between right and wrong, good and bad, death and salvation. Once crossed the geographical border between the USA and Mexico, the assault troops lose their humanity turning into monsters more fearful than the monsters themselves. In this loss of concreteness, the camera anchors itself to Kate’s gaze, the only point of view aimed at seeking a glimmer of hope and humanity in a world bent by chaos. Between exterminating angels and the bearers of death, Sicario is an essay on shrunken violence, silent poetry and perhaps for this reason amplified, of a ferocious spell of a bestiality that does not forget humanity, subverting it.
We live our existence believing ourselves unique. We anchor ourselves to this security, to accept ourselves more easily, between strengths and weaknesses. This is why the encounter not only with the other, but with our double, destabilizes us, frightens us, knocks us down. Privileged container of the darkest part of ourselves, that of the double is one of the most recurring themes in cinema, and so after Bertolucci, Aronofsky and David Fincher, in 2013 Denis Villeneuve also enters the universe of the double with Enemy. With the complicity of Jake Gyllenhaal, Villeneuve transforms the present time on the screen into a labyrinthine structure in which the protagonist and his double (Adam and Anthony) get lost, to meet again, collide, unite. Inspired by The duplicate man by José Saramago, Enemy is the perfect snapshot of a forced adherence to social conventions in which we ourselves do not believe, but which we end up accepting unconsciously. A lacerating construction, whose (self) explosive scope is so powerful as to split man up to make him an enemy of himself and his socially accepted reflection.
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We could define it as a simple science fiction film, Arrival, but it is not. A fleeting glance is enough to understand that behind that encounter with an alien race lurks a network that goes beyond the work of the sci-fi genre, to enrich it with philosophical, linguistic, existential and bioethical intentions. It is an existential drama with echoes of Greek tragedy, Arrival. A universe that, although illuminated by neon lights and technological structures, ends up being claustrophobic, the dark prison of a human being now deprived of his apparent superiority and therefore invested with terror and fear. Not having the certainty of the present (let alone the future) scares man, and it is in this embrace between fear and hope that the figure of Louise Banks (Amy Adams) rises, direct bridge between the phobia of the different and its overcoming, in a dialogue of equality and sensitivity that too often is not understood. Unusual object, like the oval spaceship that gravitates and lands on the ground of the present, Arrival is a multi-lingual, multiform and multilayered work, developed on different increasingly complex levels. A patchwork of meanings, themes and stimuli only suggested but never hidden, so as to grasp, take and assimilate and make their own, using them in daily dialogue, in everyday existence. Not bad for a “simple science fiction movie”.
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5. BLADE RUNNER 2049
Before Dune (of which we leave you our review) Denis Villeneuve had already shown that he was not afraid to join the greats of cinema, paying homage to them, and at the same time integrating them with his own authorial vision. A need shown with simplicity and great visual approach in Blade Runner 2049. Once again after Arrival and before the transposition of Herbert’s novel, Villeneuve draws heavily on the universe of the science fiction genre, to integrate it with philosophical and ethical issues. Hybrid between blockbuster and authorial films, with Blade Runner 2049 Villeneuve subtracts the work from the logic of the market to award it with a bioethical discourse with which to denounce man’s desire for divine inspiration to rise – to replace – the role of God. But not only that: similarly to what Alex Garland did with Ex-Machina, the replicant no longer serves to play the vacant role of villain, but becomes the spokesperson for a social complaint about the fear of the different and the quest on what is human and what not. Between the interspaces of a masterful work, a silent debate creeps up that crosses the cinematographic frame to touch us from the depths: who can truly consider himself human? Humans may not be born, but humanity is a possible achievement, and becoming such, and feeling the snow on your skin, immediately means becoming outlawed, and being so unique, for better or for worse. And it is precisely in the personal claim carried out by the replicants of a uniqueness reserved only for the human race, that glimpses of misunderstandings, fears, gaps in a bond between father and son typical of us human beings and not unlike those lived in the world can be glimpsed. of the replicants of Blade Runner 2049.