An unearthly film rooted in earthbound endeavors, John Skoog’s twilight idyll reflects on a Swedish farming village and its environs through a flowing series of nonfiction vignettes. View firmly askew, the film’s imagery depicts men and women at work and at play—wrangling cattle as if it’s a mysterious rite, with leisure time devoted to drinking themselves silly, going to a nightclub, or hazing a young man over his haircut. You might think you’ve seen the agrarian vein well and truly mined already in cinema, but Skoog and DP Ita Zbroniec-Zajt’s uncanny camerawork and the enveloping sound design restore some of that hushed mystery felt when standing in the middle of a meadow. One crane shot over a waving field of grass comes off as pure magic, technically and artistically. Although Skoog’s approach is not grounded in anecdote, I was reminded of Robinson Devor’s largely forgotten Police Beat for the film’s capacity to set us loose to drift in isolated moments, observed from hidden corners we hadn’t considered before. On top of all that, behold in wonder as two cows emerge as recurring characters, a pair of spiritual avatars in the wilderness.
Nicolas Rapoldis the editor-in-chief of Film Comment and hosts The Film Comment Podcast.
A dog’s life: a fascinating (and frightening) retrospective at this year’s Viennale focused on violent genre films produced in Austria in the 1980s, exemplified by Gerald Kargl’s controversial 1983 serial-killer flick, Angst