Film Reviews

Review: ‘Beyond the One’

Anna Marziano’s film is visually lovely, especially in its more abstract moments.

Courtesy of TIFF


Beyond the One (Al di là dell’uno)
(Italy/France/Germany
Dir. Anna Marziano
Programme: Wavelengths (World Premiere)

Wavelength regular Anna Marziano’s latest film is 53 minutes long, placing it in the somewhat neglected, ill-defined category between short and feature. There are many good reasons not to make a work of this length—it creates obstacles even for programming at festivals, let alone commercial distribution—so such a film carries a bit more distinction with it, simply by virtue of its duration, and it also comes with a mark of artistic confidence.

This confidence is well placed in the case of Beyond the One, which has a rhythm that allows words and images to breathe, leaving space for thought and for the tracing of sympathetic relations. It’s an appropriate formal strategy for a film about the various forms of affinity, affection, intimacy and solidarity between individuals that can be subsumed under the term “love” (along with their inverses—animosity, abuse, distance, neglect). Images and sound are non-synchronous, giving the film a further sense of openness. Interview subjects are heard reflecting on past or current relationships and discoursing on their individual philosophies of love. When they are seen, they are pictured in everyday, individual acts of habitation, rather than in identifiable acts of love. The effect of this is to formally underscore the paradox of love—as a relation that exists between two (or more) people, but which can never fully dissolve the individuality of lovers, retaining an essential dimension of privacy. Or, in the case of a loved one who has passed, as a relation between an individual and a memory—a phantom—which is not only absent but no longer even exists integrally, whose existence is diffused into the external world, into things and places which stimulate their memory.

While there is nothing pedantic about Marziano’s film (the filmmaker remains unseen and unheard, her presence implied only in meditative travelling shots between locales and subjects), between its scenes a kind of indirect discourse can be read, which suggests that love dies when it ceases to be a creative activity. For Marziano, love dies when it becomes calcified as an ideal or as an ideology, or defers to tradition, or doesn’t leave space for individuality and for the multiplicity of individual forms of love. As an essay film, it accomplishes the impressive feat of saying quite a lot while speaking only through quotation and formal artifice. It’s also visually lovely, especially in its more abstract moments, and has an overall sense of gentle simplicity that makes it a pleasure to watch.

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