Christopher Banahan gets Lost in the Living, which screened at the Galway Film Fleadh.
Lost in the Living begins as a classic story of a bunch of Irish lads in a band enjoying the thrill and adventure of touring in a foreign land. The foreign land being Berlin, which here is portrayed as a very decadent city, with its emphasis on youth culture. Then the story begins to drift away to focus on the troubled band-member Oisín and transforms into a personal voyage of discovery and reckoning for this central protagonist, compellingly portrayed by the extraordinary presence of Tadhg Murphy.
Oisín, who has an obvious self-destruct mechanism, feels he has been sidelined by his band. He is lured away by the exquisite and utterly charming Sabine (played by the ‘face to watch’ in German Cinema, Aylin Tezel). Initially, he is dumbfounded by this beautiful girl’s interest in him. Then, in what the director called his ‘love letter to Berlin’, the pair appear to fall passionately in love with each other. Sabine reveals to him a hidden Berlin of intimate places, away from the tourist traps. Though you always suspect she is too good to be true and this is hinted at in a nightclub where she pretends not to know a man who seems familiar with her.
Oisín, smitten, surprises her by wanting to see her home. At this point you sense he wants to see this ‘perfect girl’s’ background, possibly curious to see what makes her ‘so happy’ – as it becomes obvious Oisín has a troubled past he is in denial about.
After an intimate night together, secrets slip out unleashing Oisín‘s self-destruct button as embittered memories are brought to the surface.
The director, Robert Manson, uses a subtle metaphor of ‘foreignness of voices’ around the troubled Oisín to emphasis his alienation, not only to the city but from himself and the people he thought cared for him.
The film has a remarkable juxtaposition of cinematography by Narayan Van Maele, emphasised in the scene where Oisín appears to walk drunkenly through an underground train. It’s as if he’s at kilter to the movement of the irregular shifting of the carriages, like an annoying ‘crazy walk’ on a fairground ride, making his slow progress sluggishly towards an endless sea of overhead T.V. Monitors with the same image repeated.
In fact there are many remarkable moments of cinematography, such as the focus pull on the wonderfully atmospheric depth of field swimming scene, where the nakedness of the young couple is treated sensitively and with pathos (as such scenes can so easily be portrayed as corny).
The director Robert Manson said that much of the cinematography and plot approach are partly an homage to Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad) and Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura), both known for their chilly depictions of alienation, creating enigmatic and intricate mood pieces, rejecting action in favour of contemplation, all ingredients in which Lost in the Living successfully negates and embellishes, adding its own unique imprint.
Christopher Banahan (MA Production and Direction: Huston School of Film & Digital Media, Flirt FM journalist)
Lost in the Living screened on Thursday, 9th July as part of the Galway Film Fleadh (7 – 12 July 2015)