10 December 2008

In the City of Sylvia

Written & Directed by: José Luis Guerín
Full credits from IMDb

Grade: 4/5

Bound for a slot in countless cinema studies curricula because it puts film theory into practice, the near-plotless and dialogueless In the City of Sylvia (En la Ciudad de Sylvia) alternates endlessly between views of subject and object, the gazer and the gazee. Xavier Lafitte plays the unnamed protagonist, who spends his days at a café, passionately ogling and sketching ladies of all races and ages. It’s like cinema as people-watching on a lazy summer afternoon. With its copious point-of-view shots, the movie revels in the vicarious thrill of seeing through the eyes of another and in the sensation of moving while remaining stationary in the plush theater-seat — that old bit about cinema as a dream. Or, it’s Being Xavier Lafitte. That the actor resembles a young Christ, in his Euro-heartthrob shagginess, seems to be no accident — it lends his gaze-fixing the gravity of theological observation and turns the camera into a domineering godhead.

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