Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Review] A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

I realize the title "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" reads like quite possibly one of the most pretentious, arthouse/farthouse titles of all time (verging on parody), potentially making for a dull & painstaking viewing that some people might only pretend to like or hurl the "You just don't get it!" phrase around. Well, this isn't exactly that, and it's not as self-serious as it sounds. I'm definitely not saying this Swedish absurdist comedy is for everyone. Most people will be scratching their heads. There are some bits to appreciate, but it simply isn't my cup of tea either.

Self-proclaimed to be "About human beings", A Pigeon is not really an anthology of short films as much as it's 39 very short vignettes. Episodic in nature, it waltzes from setting to setting of banal situations, mining for humor--someone failing to meet someone at a restaurant, a dude trying to avoid getting touched by his dance instructor, and strange deaths that suck the life out of the death scene in general, if that makes sense. The stubbornly static camera displays each (well-framed) stageplay-like setup. Every scene is washed with grays and beiges (some of the humans even look gray), all making for a uniformed aesthetic that matches the droll humor.

The scene changes at least keep things interesting as we try to garner something new from each one. They appear to escalate, getting stranger and more dreamlike as things go. However, it still feels very slow, and I found myself checking my watch, just wanting it to end. Roy Andersson's A Pigeon is an exercise in cryptic minimalism and the mundanity of everything. It's all part of the point, but it isn't necessarily something most people want to see on the big screen.


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