peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 06 04 Slow

Slow (2023)

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Prompted by a four stars of five review by Wendy Ide and sign language.

In present-day Lithuania a dance instructor (Elena, Greta Grinevičiūtė) and sign-language interpreter (Dovydas, Kęstutis Cicėnas) meet cute at her class for deaf students. We're shown this after a provocative opening scene where Elena demonstrates her lustiness with a random man; perhaps we meet him more fully later. There's also a song by a Lithuanian pop group that put me in mind of Fallen Leaves. Soon enough they go to his brother's wedding but from there the deaf parts fall away and the focus is on the hearing people, much like CODA. It doesn't even try for an interesting sound design ala Sound of Metal.

The other novelty dominates as the couple couples up: he claims to be asexual but still desirous of the other aspects of a relationship. I don't think this concept was handled very well. Compared with Emma Watson's "self partnering" (which I take to be essentially a happy, unabashed and knowing singledom) they seem deluded from the start: she's so obviously sexy and while he claims to not be physically into her the mechanics are not an issue and yet she cannot accept his attempts at pleasing her. She's not that into it because she thinks he isn't; perhaps the straightforwardness of Dovydas prevented a more interesting exploration. Instead it seemed like he wanted mateship (would he have partnered up with a man?) and they both seem a bit emotionally immature (or learning how to love if you prefer). The normativity makes things a bit boring, especially when he drunkenly proposes that she take lovers. That put me in mind of Breaking the Waves and its far higher stakes.

Elena does have some funny lines. Her mum is a real bitch and given to some nasty body shaming. (Elena is a ballerina with the wrong shape, making me wonder if the whole thing took Leonard Cohen's Heart with No Companion too seriously.) She is self-aware but presents as a closed book beyond her obvious physicality and often seems to be a blank canvas for Dovydas to project himself onto. (He sweetly says "we’re going to Maccas" after meeting her mum but that's his comfort and we don't learn about hers.) He's often shameless.

I didn't enjoy the cinematography very much. Too often it's in tight when I wanted to see what the groups are doing, or some other thing just off screen.

Beatrice Loayza at the New York Times wanted his sign language and her dancing to communicate more passion. Rebecca Liu. Peter Sobczynski: three-and-a-half stars at Roger Ebert. He elides the actual beginning of the movie which suggest something broader than is supplied. Hollywood would've done it so much worse.