Minimalist at its Finest

09 May

Hotel Chevalier and The Darjeeling Limited are films that provide each others’ endings. I enjoyed watching these two films more than the other movies we have watched because although some scenes and some parts of the script were quite vague and minimalist, it was still easier to understand and seemed more realistic than the other movies. I think cause of this would probably be that there is a certain flow with the story and the focus remains consistent all throughout the movies.

The Mise-en-scene of Hotel Chevalier set the mood of a mixed feeling of apathy (in a positive note) and desire. In Hotel Chevalier, the conversation between the man (Jason Schwartzman) and woman (Natalie Portman) seems so emotionless but then through this, we see the relationship between the two which in my perspective I believe were ex lovers. However, you can’t really tell what caused their relationship to be that way.  Also, in their odd spontaneous rendezvous, I notice that the woman seems to be in more in control than the man. Examples would be the woman just inviting herself to the hotel room, asking more questions and when they were getting comfortable with each other, she strikingly raises up her leg for him to remove her boot. Almost the whole 13 minutes of the movie the character of Natalie Portman dominated the scene but at the same time this made the viewers focus on the weakness or fragility of the character of Jason Schwartzman. It seemed obvious that his past experiences before the odd spontaneous rendezvous affected his behavior and the whole isolation in the hotel. In this film, we sort of see or feel an affair remembered but not quite the same as before. During their act of making love, there was an exchange of shady meaningful sentences that actually contributed to the shadiness of their affair. Natalie Portman says, “I never wanna lose you as my friend.” then Jason Scwartzman says, “I promise I will never be your friend no matter what.” Then she says, “I never mean to hurt you on purpose.. I’m going to feel like shit tomorrow.” Then he says, “I don’t care.” While listening to this conversation, we kind of conclude that Natalie Portman’s the bad guy and Jason Schwartzman sort of doesn’t really care because it seemed like he really loved her. At the end of the scene, Jason Schwartzman interrupts the intimate session and shows her his view of Paris then they go back inside. I didn’t really understand this part which leaves this prologue shady for me.

I must say that the “seduction song” he was using in his hotel room did contribute to the mise-en-scene. It wasn’t exactly the senti type of music which totally contradicts the feeling of passion. Probably this was to mock the feeling of passion and intimacy. This quite amused me because it added to the shadiness but at the same time emphasized on its uniqueness.

I’d have to say the same about The Darjeeling Limited. I’d say the story and plot was more understandable and actually easier to analyze but I could still sense a certain haze because of the minimalist dialogues in a modern setting. What I liked most about the film was that how I could feel the strong connection between the three brothers even if they lost contact for a long time. It was their journey during the whole film that touched me. What’s weird about it was that in their journey, you are able to conclude how each brother is. Who the domineering one is and who sort of the weak one is. I think what I liked about the movie as well was how the background music added to the drama. It didn’t need to be too dramatic. It just had to be fit for the culture and state of the context and it was a perfect fit.

This movie was minimalist but it left a big impact on me. The elements were minimalist but put them all together and they create one ball of greatness.

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Posted by on 9 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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