English Title: The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez
Original Title: Les beaux jours d’Aranjuez
Country: France, Germany, Portugal
Language: French, German
Director: Wim Wenders
Cinematography: Benoît Debie
Wenders’ 3D-labelled Golden Lion candidate is a major letdown in Venice this year, it is literally a French “talkie” between a man (Kateb) and a woman (Semin), who sit in a charming garden and converses about inconsequential trivialities with chutzpah, which are sex-obsessed, self-emancipating, boastfully elusive, sometimes even out on a limb of being pretentiously scatological, but film is intrinsically a lesser medium to bestow a full credit to the ineffable weight of words, especially when its visual monotony inevitably will take a heavy toll in its feature length.
The experience is not entirely unpleasant but unavoidably soporific, many a time one simply wishes that the whole thing were a tongue-in-cheek joke which Wenders chirpily inflicts on audience to test how much they can endure gobbledygook and to verify whether his status and prestige can get away with it, – and my answer is a firm no, not this time.
The film is based on Peter Handke’s script which is originally tailored for a two-handler play, but Wenders takes an offbeat decision to produce it as a film toying with 3D technology, unfortunately, the double-layered special effect is rather ill-fitting, ironically, the film becomes less tiring when one takes off the 3D-glass, things barely happen on the screen, and the scenery is practically always in the same, lush, luminous garden, so why on earth we should be obediently burdened with 3D enhancement?
Apart from Kateb and Semin (wife of Handke, who actually delivers a great chunk of impassioned monologues throughout), the film also includes a writer (Harzer), the man and woman allegedly are the characters he created from the book which he is currently working on, but he has no surreal interactions with the duo. The best part is Nick Cave’s appearance just when the samey-ness hits a new low, he intones a soulful rendition of INTO MY ARMS, then, the talkie resumes until, near its coda, a sonic reverberation seems to portend an apocalyptic tremor is in the offing, which instantly recalls Lars von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA (2011), and that’s it, winds up this lugubrious viewing experience, ouch!
Under the halo of a reverend maestro, Wim Wenders knowingly trifles with innovations on an experimental front and he has the means to do that, as long as someone is willing to finance his escapade, only there is no fun for ticket-paying audience, maybe for him, yes, but Wenders should have been a more proficient practitioner despite of edging towards his twilight days, after all he is just 71 this year, so, my unanticipated takeaway of this film is a sudden surge of respect towards those still-working octogenarians such as Roman Polanski, Clint Eastwood, or even Woody Allen, under such context.