Build a Ship, Sail to Sadness is a movie every bit as cumbersome and trying as its title. Through a series of vignettes shot in ugly Hi8 video, it follows the “enormously strange” journey of Vincent (Magnus Aronson), who has moved to a small Scottish town where he inexplicably wants to open up a “mobile disco.” Though it’s made from the same mockumentary parts as Best in Show and A Mighty Wind—awkward social encounters with eccentric characters—director Laurin Federlein’s technique is too precious to let the audience off with something as easy as a punchline. You know Vincent is supposed to be weird because he wears a turquoise raincoat and sniffs petrol fumes, but there’s nothing to put the character in context since we only see from his hazy perspective. Throughout the film, he travels down a seemingly endless stretch of highway, but why is he always moving and where is he going? Like Vincent, who tends to pause and draw out his sentences to an excruciating length, Federlein doesn’t feel the need to make his thoughts intelligible or interesting, and as a result some of the sequences come across as appallingly off-key. The final dream shot imagines Aronson riding across an open road in bliss, but it’s unclear whether the junky use of a green-screen background is meant to be funny, ironic, or simply endearing; instead, it’s just off-putting. Suited to its subject matter, Build a Ship has the distinct mark of self-indulgence.
- 69 min
- Laurin Federlein
- Laurin Federlein, Magnus Aronson
- Magnus Aronson
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