Losing Ground

Losing Ground

CW: Sexism, racism, domestic dispute

"I always forget you can't dance."

Poisonous words, binding words, like a hex, he mends the chains she has broken over the course of her sojourn away from him. (The whole film is a dance; dance is when rhythm is applied to human movement as a proxy for emotional connection--that includes dissolving marriages as much as sexual intercourse or religious ceremony. This film is a dance, a fitting sequel to West Side Story.) It's this moment that ends the dance, brings the subsequent explosion, as Carlos describes it (one of those reviews I wish I wrote). It's this moment that eventually undoes all the binding spells he and others like him have cast before.

The rhythm of this film is found in the quiet spaces between stretches of dialogue, in the breathing room. This is a slow dance, a film paced to let you absorb, to let you contemplate. A barrage of philosophical ideas or a complex interplay of wife-and-man, a budding romantic or sexual connection, a point-counterpoint on art and life, each of these moments are dense, woven of word and image in the way only great films are--where performance is more in the body than the voice, where the hue* of a shirt or use of nature as framing tells as much or more than words words words. The rhythm is there in the direction, how moments overlap thematically, how we feel the dissolution of a marriage before it's ever made explicit. It's there in the very first moments of the film, layered into dialogue otherwise irrelevant. It festers, grows, rises like an accelerating beat. It never hits fever pitch, even in actual moments of dance, but it increases just noticeably.

* I wish I understood color. I wish I could talk about how red and yellow and green and dark blue work together against gritty city backdrops and rural verdure and grainy film, how the palette comes into play not just on an aesthetic level but on a sociological one. I can read that puffy white shirt a bit, those severe dresses, those business professional clothes, all in comparison with the film costumes and model outfits. That's simple enough, even if some nuance is lost, but I wish I knew where the bright shirts and skirts, where the dark capes comes from. It's not that they're all bits of allegory, but that there's more to the story there, just a bit more, a touch of context. Like with certain nuances of race and philosophy and history that I don't get, the colorful costumes seem to have a world I can't yet access.

52 project: 74/52

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