by: PRINDIE Senior Programmer ALEX KIM
is an exploration of memory, and life, and love. It is about things we lose and can’t regain. It is about being there for the ones that need us. More than anything it is about redemption—the powerful, soul-shaking redemption that only love and trust provide, and which every now and then a rare cinematic masterpiece like this restores our faith in.
No one is likely to guess all this from the first image that greets us in the film—of garbage moving rapidly along a conveyor belt—but that is part of the point. We take for granted sometimes all the things that are happening in our lives. They clip along just like the garbage on that belt. We stop paying attention. We miss important and lovely things. In one shot the angle is such that it looks as though the crushed plastic containers and balled-up paper tissues are moving upwards, against gravity. It’s a little miracle. But it’s garbage, right? So—who’d notice? Noguès trusts that we will.
The protagonist of Uuquchiing, a factory worker named Camille, blacks out suddenly during a dinner with his grandparents and finds himself in the trunk of his friends’ car. He asks them what happened. They tell him that they picked him up, that he volunteered to ride in the trunk, that he was awake and active during all that time between the dinner and now. He can’t remember any of it. And not long afterwards, it happens again.
Johan Libéreau, the actor who plays Camille, delivers a by turns understated and no-holds-barred performance, taking us deep into Camille’s frustration and his growing horror at his situation. Through Camille’s increasingly frequent episodes of losing hours, sometimes whole days of his life, he is kept sane by the love he finds in a young woman named Marina—played by Lucie Debay in a similarly real, and moving, performance. In one of many startling examples of the film’s originality, Camille meets Marina at a party in one of those scenes that in most films lead inevitably to a drunken lovemaking sequence, but here skips instead to a conversation that highlights Marina’s quick wit and quietly sets up the beginning of their growing friendship and love.
And the ending of Uuquchiing—without divulging too much, it recalls the cinematic power of the final sequence in Kieslowski’s Blue. The music and the beautiful cinematography during the film’s closing moments let us believe in Camille and Marina and their love in a way that no medium but film could.
“Every day I wake up in total confusion,” Camille says at one point, “because I don’t know if I’m in the right place.” He is talking about himself.
He is talking about us.