Thursday, 3 December 2015

HE HATED PIGEONS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - love, pain, grief @WhistlerFilmFest2015

He Hated Pigeons (2015)
Dir. Ingrid Veninger
Starring: Pedro Fontaine

Review By Greg Klymkiw

He Hated Pigeons is Ingrid (The Animal Project, Modra) Veninger's staggering new feature film. It gripped me emotionally, artistically and, by its haunting conclusion, left me breathless, like a kick in the gut, and in a flood of tears of Niagara Falls proportions.

It is about grief.

This is a subject many try to dramatize, but ultimately, so few have the ability to render as beautifully and truthfully as Veninger's film does. A synopsis of the "plot" would be a trifling matter, especially given the perfectly rendered episodic structure of the picture.

In fact, it seems virtually impossible to describe the indelible layers of humanity which reach out from the screen and wrench every last ounce of your strength. The picture forces you to commit to grief as much as it alternately creates a sense of acceptance on this bold, brave journey along the Chilean highways and byways of life and death.

I prefer to think of the film as experiential, but with a complex character at the core, so beautifully conceived by Veninger and gorgeously acted by her handsome, talented leading man Pedro Fontaine.

Fontaine movingly exorcises the grief his character feels for the sweet, vibrant young man he loved, a young man who passed away far too early in life. Fontaine plays a man on an odyssey to the ends of the earth in Chile (gorgeously rendered by cinematographer Dylan McLeod). Using his dead lover's diary-like book of sketches, collages and other lovely works of art as a kind of emotional road map on this journey is one of the simplest, most evocative tools to tell a mostly visual story.

His private grief in addition to an episodic, always-fascinating series of life-affirming scenes involving Fontaine and several people he meets on the way, still have me trembling at one moment and in deep rumination the next - similar to how I watched and experienced it on a big screen and even now, in those moments when I think back on it.

The one thing that both excites me and yet fills me with a kind of regret is that the film will only be presented in theatrical venues with a live score performed by local musicians in whatever area it plays. When I saw it, there was indeed a solid score beautifully played live. That said, the film, in addition to its visual gifts, is blessed with an astonishing soundscape of location sound and designed sound. This frankly, has the potential to be the film's score and one hopes this is something considered for an eventual Blu-Ray release.

I always maintain how simplicity is what yields complexity. Nowhere in recent memory is this more apparent than in the dazzling and heartbreaking He Hated Pigeons.


He Hated Pigeons is playing at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival.