In the City of Sylvia (En la ciudad de Sylvia)
Not In the City of Sylvia though. This film was a painful exercise in nothing happening and a long time taken for that nothing to happen.
For the most part this film was about people watching, just watching people, and sometimes not even hearing them.
We were treated to long open shots of streets with random people walking through them, next to no dialogue just background noise, and the longest scene of following someone I've ever witnessed.
There was some good in there though, there was a story that could have come out but never properly did. Here's the story before I discuss the story that never really had a chance.
A man is sitting at a café day after day observing and sketching people, mainly women. He recognises one and sets about following her when she leaves the café, he seems quite infactuated with her. He follows her for a long time, losing and refinding her a couple of times. Eventually he speaks to her, finds she's not who she thought she was, and heads off. That night he gets drunk, laid, and goes about sketching people again.
Yup, that's your film, and for the first time I'm really not concerned about spoilers as there are none. Really. There's nothing to spoil.
Okay, there's something that could have been there, there is a relationship that threatens to spring up between the almost stalker and the stalkee, but it's totally missed or avoided.
It was sad because at that point the film threatened to become something interesting. But that was only for a few moments before returning to the mundane shots of nothing. There does continue to be a hint of a story, but it remains unexplored, totally.
I should have realised that this wasn't my kind of film when the opening shot showed the main character sitting and staring for a good few minutes without any dialogue and the biggest action being the slow movement of a pencil.
The following shots of the camera merely staring at a none too busy street scene should also have been a solid indicator, it was for a few other critics.
When we did get a brief exchange of dialogue, well into the running time of the film, it was poorly written. Clunky, repetitive, awkward, and again painful.
To be fair though the female lead was interesting to watch and delivered her lines with conviction, and the hinted relationship between them did provide a little interest. I could also see something positive in the shots of watching people at the beginning of the film.
However none of this makes a film, and the rest was excrutiatingly slow and drawn out.
Release Dates: Currently France 10th September 2008.
Search for In the City of Sylvia on Filmstalker stores
Filmstalker's Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008 page
UK IMDB Film Details