Swedish absurdist Roy Andersson returns with another series of bittersweet sketches that both amuse and move in equal measure
Roy Andersson is on sparkling form with his latest Beckett-esque study in the human condition. Visually, About Endlessness is similar to earlier works, like You, the Living and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. A static camera observes characters in wide shot as they act out a little drama of no more than a few minutes; invariably, the actors are wearing white makeup that suggests they're walking corpses.
These short sequences tend to be mundane and everyday. In one, a middle-aged man and woman, presumably a couple, sit on a bench quietly watching the sun set. The woman breaks the silence with the observation: "It's almost September." A few capture moments of historical note, for example, an imagining of Hitler's last few moments in the bunker. Some characters make multiple appearances. A priest who's losing his faith features across several tableaux, including one in which he has a nightmare of performing the Passion while his congregation beat and whip him. The effect is like watching a series of live-action comic panels.
As well as being gently amusing, Andersson's genius is to pepper his comic sketches with genuinely moving observations. It tends to be the simplest of sequences that knocks you for six, be it a father bending down in the rain to tie his daughter's shoelace while she shelters under her dinky umbrella or three young women opting to have an impromptu dance outside a country pub. We've laughed more at other Andersson films, but About Endlessness might be his most endearing and humane.
About Endlessness screens at Glasgow Film Festival, Mon 2 Mar, 9pm & Tue 3 Mar, 3.45pm, Cineworld Renfrew St; on general release from 10 July via Curzon Artifical Eye