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Passing Summer
(Mein langsames Leben)

Screening on Film
Directed by Angela Schanelec.
With Ursina Lardi, Andreas Patton, Anne Tismer.
Germany, 2001, 35mm, color, 85 min.
German with English subtitles.
Print source: Deutsche Kinemathek

The German title, My Slow Life, may reveal a bit more about Valerie’s central—yet physically more passive and immobile—position in the film. As in all of Schanelec’s films, the apparent slowness is an illusion: life continues to dramatically unfold throughout the most nondramatic of moments, and so much happens in between cuts that the scenes seem to carry that much more weight. Valerie’s experience mirrors that of the audience’s trying to figure out who she is, where she fits within the tangle of relationships among siblings, spouses, lovers, friends and acquaintances. And perhaps Valerie is also like the film itself: directionless, maintaining a certain distance and ambivalence, yet pulled into the ebbs and flows, the oceans and lakes regardless. Miraculously, the formal, oblique aspects of Schanelec’s cinema make space for abrupt, surprising emotions and allow for a natural sense of intimacy. Her characters are sometimes reduced to small figures who remain in wide shots for whole sequences; only in the inverse universe of Schanelec does this distance seem to bring them closer.

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