Sunday, March 06, 2011

MUSE: A Savage Cocktail (with a Dash of Bitters, Please)

Kudos all around for Massimo Salvato’s Muse, which keenly interposes the almost sepia-soaked world of earnest creativity with the LED-infused shock of the lean, mean and too clean new century that each of the two writers inhabit.

We see the story unfold with the three principal characters locked in the uncomfortable embrace of creative exploitation, resignation and cynicism.

Jules Mallory Skinner’s “Monty” is a reclusive poet spurred toward creative resusitation by Ludmilla (played erratically by Julia Krynke); a woman besotted with her role as the inspirational force behind two very different men. Equally obsessed is Richard Elfyn’s “Walter”(a personality best summed up by the description “wide lawn, narrow mind”).

It’s Elfyn who strikes the most plausible note here in his standout performance. His emotional directness sears as he stares unflinchingly into the camera – his gravel-tinged confessional a perfect complement to the oppressive psychological atmosphere.

Krynke’s “Ludmilla” seems more sterile than the piece requires – alternating a firm lock on her character with intermittent lapses, as the script also exposes bouts of incontinuity breaks in flow and style. There are however several instances of greater flavour added to the written pot.

Adam Harvey’s musical scoring shows admirable restraint, subtly supporting the entire paintbox of colour that Salvato brings to life in an understated surge at the film’s conclusion.

Muse seduces again with the weaving of darkness and light and turns their standard symbolism on its head in a reversal of value. The scene changes are arrestingly crisp and fresh and we are treated to a sumptuous visual feast of images; a snail crawls toward the high set keys of an old typewriter, a tank sits amidst the scrabble of a trodden field, an aerial view of divided farmland stretches out like
gauzy velvet before us.

All said, this is a high level offering. Fine editing and deft cinematography contribute toward making the viewer wish to see this long short expanded into a feature length (indeed it does strike one as a clip from a lengthier effort), as a desire to remain longer in the world that has been created.
One is ultimately left with a strong interest in seeing what will be up Massimo Salvato’s creative sleeve next.

-Angela Turk

MUSE by Massimo Salvato GB 2010 20 min | Screened in European Premiere at the 7th Berlin International Directors Lounge

Photo: Julia Murakami and Massimo Salvato at the 7th Berlin International Directors Lounge

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