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Solastalgia (2022)


Water, sky, earth–they come together to create a beautiful landscape, a vivid expression of passion. These things exist only in a painting now–a window into a memory that haunts a family, and it’s unrelenting in its dominion, creating Solastalgia for one woman and her loved ones. A mist hangs over her head, making difficult her journey toward a lagoon that can’t be located. She fights through the darkness, the pain, the unknowing–but truth eludes her, stubbornly finding ways to remain hidden.

Pain and suffering, along with the idea of unknowing, are the centerpieces of Solastalgia. They drive the film forward, provide meaning to viewers, and ultimately create a bridge between what’s on screen and those sitting in front of a screen tasked with dissecting this artistic documentary. Minutes pass before a word is uttered; and, even then, no dialogue exists–simply words on a screen. In those first few minutes all viewers know are cryptic paintings and the sound of water–essentially acting as the passage by which viewers travel in order to understand the film. Knowing nothing, and being given nothing to help us understand the film in the first few minutes is frustrating–intentionally so. It develops a bond between the woman struggling to understand the missing piece of her life and all of us watching. Solastalgia relays information by not relaying information, keeping viewers in the dark, and forcing viewers to attempt to understand what is occurring in those opening moments.

Paired with the ambiguity of sound exists a series of drab, dark paintings that relay very little information as well. Viewers must give their all in order to understand the purpose of the dingy tones and interestingly difficult artistic ventures of whoever painted this picture. Solastalgia continues to pile on the struggles of the film’s narrator, and viewers end up, whether they want to or not, participating in this journey with her.

Pain and suffering throughout the course of Solastalgia isn’t voluntary, and Director Violeta Mora forces her viewers to take part in her powerful, horrifying journey. Those ideas of pain and suffering don’t exist just within the film, but they leak out into the audience, and they grab hold of viewers–never relenting and becoming a powerful cog in Solastalgia. It’s not pain and suffering to watch this film, but the pain of the filmmaker is made clear through the difficult images and powerful words that exist on screen–and that pain manages to reach viewers in a way that makes them feel exactly what the narrator is feeling.

It was obviously a conscious decision to avoid dialogue or monologue of any kind–and that decision allows viewers to look past the words on screen and feel what is occurring throughout. Solastalgia is a hard-hitting short documentary that possesses the qualities of something you might find from some of the cinema world’s greatest minds.

Slow, smooth, passionate–Solastalgia is all of these things and more. Harrowing, desolate, viscous–the film never relents in terms of viewers having a lot to digest and a lot to swallow. There are so many moving parts beneath the surface of Solastalgia, and it regularly forces viewers to analyze the deeper meaning present in Mora’s film. It’s a moving picture that manages, through everything, to find its footing early on, never losing it along the way.

Directed by Violeta Mora.




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