She walks down the street dragging her knuckles against building walls, then deliberately bangs her head on the railing of a bridge. He stands in front of a mirror and slashes his stomach with scissors, then bandages the wound, sits back down to continue working on his art project, and meows at his cat. When these two crazy kids get together in Valse Sentimentale, the sparks fly, and by sparks, I mean half-sentences, halting gestures, uncomfortable glances, odd behavior, and social retardation so pronounced it makes one pine for the sweet tranquility of death. Constantina Voulgaris’s directorial debut is, per its press kit, “a love story where nothing happens, where they say nothing, do nothing, and where change…means nothing.” Certainly, nothing of substance is conveyed by this interminable saga about nihilists Stamatis (Thanos Samaras), a shut-in who makes scribbly drawings and plays with a doll dressed like himself, and Electra (Loukia Michalopoulou), a goth chick with the personality of dirt. Unfortunately, though, things do literally happen. Like Stamatis storming out of a girl’s birthday get-together, wandering around the city at night, and moaning about how relationships hinder his ability to freak out and lock himself in his apartment for five-month stretches. Or like Electra listening to CDs of droning guitars and robot-computer voices, providing screamy accompaniment to a keyboard-playing guy’s song on a rooftop, and watching Carrie. The couple coexists in some strange urban fantasyland where employment isn’t required to rent a flat or pay for food, which affords them plenty of time to work on being insufferably moronic, self-indulgent navel-gazers. Director Voulgaris, meanwhile, puts considerable effort into making Valse Sentimentale as aesthetically hideous as possible, her grainy, overly dark and indistinct DV proving a triumph of unsightliness whose main failing, ultimately, is that it doesn’t go the extra mile and wholly obscure its protagonists from view.
- 109 min
- Constantina Voulgaris
- Constantina Voulgaris
- Thanos Samaras, Loukia Michalopoulou Andreas Kontopoulos, Marisha Triandafilidou, Alexandros Voulgaris
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