Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Collectress. (2008) Kristina Buozyte

The medium is the message in Kristina Buozyte's 2008 film about a Lithuanian film lover -- that is, films she narcissistically watches of herself.

Gaile, a speech therapist to children with disabilities, watches helplessly as her father overcomes the surrender to cancer by instead deciding to end it all now. He tells her this while running a reel of family films of Gaile and her sister while they were still playful kids. Caught up in grief, with a video to develop for her job, Gaile enlists the help of an alcoholic editor to piece together videos to share at a therapeutic conference. It's at this point that things get weird.

We don't know exactly why Gaile falls in love with the images of herself, all we really know is that she's quickly preoccupied with making more and more personal films. She's willing to use the money her father left her to pay off the editor's debts and isolate him in her employment. She wants to feel anything but numb at her place in life, and through editing and viewing herself in awkward situations -- uninvited at a wedding and fully kissing the groom, driving like crazy in her boss's sports car as he grips the passenger door and screams to slow down -- she can laugh, cry, and experience normal emotion again.

It's pretty easy to see where this is going.

Like what I recently wrote about A Call Girl, I was simply hoping for substance in any form. When the medium, contrived as it is, becomes the focus of the message, there's little else to hope for in the offering. And in order for the medium to be any message we really care about, there's got to a more powerful display of it than the one we find in The Collectress.

If you need a film on the same topic, I'd more quickly recommend Ondi Timoner's documentary from last year, We Live in Public. It's much more thorough, better explained, and the whole great mess is real.

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