A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Following Songs from the Second Floor and You, the Living, Swedish auteur Roy Andersson here concludes his absurdist trilogy of human nature. It’s an intoxicating collection of very odd vignettes, loosely linked by sad-sack salesmen Jonathan (Andersson) and Sam (Westblom) as they try to peddle appalling novelty tat in an effort “to help people have fun” – one of several repeated refrains that become increasingly hilarious in conjunction with the quirky existential melancholy.
Each scene is gorgeously constructed in single, static medium shot, with Andersson making full use of the depth of frame to position an assortment of oddballs in his deliberately mundane colour palette of greys and browns. Profound but never oppressive, his thought-provoking and ostensibly dark thesis is of civilisation trundling along in perennial fug. So, to present that with the lightness of touch Andersson has is something of a miracle, particularly in its more sinister moments when alluding to crimes of imperialism and exploitation. A brilliantly funny and funnily brilliant effort. [Chris Fyvie]