When it finally sets free, sets apart, sets loose, the sweet fragrant floods in, inside you, washing away your anxiety.
Bo Hu, the writer and director, whose first project, this project, is an almost four hour long achievement. Now, usually, it is advised to shoot something, some short film or a video before taking on a big project like this. And he has previously worked behind the camera. But even if he hadn’t, this journey of making a film like such would have taught him well. Joking aside, the film never gets to that weak point. It doesn’t have any. In fact there isn’t a loose thread for you to follow up to that alpha material. You can’t deconstruct the engineering of this film.
The film starts from an ambiguous lost point following an equally oblivious character in each scenario. Capturing a day of these fellows’ lives, the film is difficult to watch for two reasons. Don’t worry they are deliberately installed to speak more expressively. First, are the characters. Each character that we come across with, is always the by product of its miserable fate. As in, it is never in control of what is to happen to him or her. Either someone knows and is keeping its mouth shut than someone can’t control it.
And if some can control it, it doesn’t have the authority to and if someone has the authority to, then it itself is lost, misdirected and misinterpreted. Second, the cinematography. If we are following four lives in An Elephant Sitting Still, we are literally doing that. The camera doesn’t leave them at any cost. The result is a close up shots of these various incidents captured through their expressions, performances. You feel congested. You aren’t able to breathe. Horrible things go down and the emotion adds more trouble for the audience. Neither meltdowns nor reserved nature gives us a shoulder to hang on to.