peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2017 12 24 UntilTheEndOfTheWorld

Until the End of the World (Director's Cut)

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A three-part four-and-a-half-hour-ish self indulgence due to Wim Wenders and Peter Carey, watched over four nights (it was hard to get started). Wenders's muse at the time Solveig Dommartin seems content to have her Frenchy libertine ways and smokey voice exploited in the name of art, though this piece struggles to find much of anything to say; and so soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall too.

The premise is like Song to Song's: that young-lady Claire needs to find herself, which seems to consist of finding the right people to hang out with. Australia is presented as the full cliche: opals from Coober Pedy, the post-apocalyptic remoteness (it's always been post-apocalyptic here, just ask the Aborigines), the Aboriginal mysticism, the Harbour Bridge, the Olgas, the exploitation. Filmmakers have learnt since Walkabout to clothe the young indigenous. (That movie and this, and so many others, are linked by David Gulpilil.) Sam Neill narrates from the novel he writes as things unfold; I was unpersuaded as I've never been sold on him having any kind of inner life. He limp-wristedly wrestles with William Hurt for Solveig's affected affections. There is no plot worth mentioning. The bleating about money is irritating as the lack of water and food in the Australian outback is of no concern to anyone.

Cherrypicking: it seems the visionary tech works best with Frenchwomen on either end. The harmonica and didgeridoo pairing evokes so much late 1980s / early 1990s Australian music. Paul Livingston (Flacco) has a small role as "a genius"; something Noah Taylor later owned more successfully. Culture is freely appropriated here, with only the dreamscope crossing the moral line of the romantic fantasist auteurs. The apocalypse and its implications (an out-of-control nuclear-powered Indian satellite?!? Shot down by the USA?) are entirely unimaginative. It's too much Mad Max without the predation and the cars.

As for the length: it was and is too too long for a feature movie, and too short for a telemovie or present-day TV series. It is entirely nowhere, and there's no real point to seeing it.