For Reel

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014)
September 7, 2015, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Roy Andersson
4 Stars
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence“I’m happy to hear you’re doing fine,” is a mantra repeated throughout the entirety of A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, mostly occurring when two characters are speaking on the phone and can’t make out what the other person is saying. Contrasting the dourness of Roy Andersson’s unusual world with such a blanket empty sentiment is key to what makes his films so tonally memorable. Challenging a playful score and a certain anything-goes sensibility, Andersson’s world is lit like a hospital waiting room, his actors painted shades of grey and green so that they most resemble corpses, and movement is rare and, when it occurs, eerily deliberate. As with the previous installments of his “Living” trilogy, the world is utterly purgatorial. Structured as a series of vignettes, some of Andersson’s episodes play as small sketch comedies (a man is all-too-eager to claim the beverage of a recently deceased diner patron), others are so black that they barely register as comical at all. Regardless of the offerings, there is a certain excitement to watching his films unfold. His relentless aesthetic–long shots, deep focus, lengthy takes–makes each scene feel like a postcard, with the sum of the parts giving the impression of flipping through Andersson’s scrapbook of increasingly bizarre, drolly hilarious ruminations about life in the face of death.