Pendular (Julia Murat, 2017) Brazil | Argentina | France

Reviewed by Carolina Ayala de Anselmo. Seen at the AFI Film Festival.

Directed by new Brazilian Auteur Júlia Murat and starring Raquel Karro in her film debut and Rodrigo Bolzan, Pendular is a film that explores incommunicability in the relationship between a dancer and a sculptor living together in an abandoned industrial shed while she rehearses incessantly and he prepares a new project. With good dance choreography and a great direction in these scenes, where cuts are often used without falling into continuity errors and using good frames that give a more fluid sensation of movement, it is exclusively in these scenes that Pendular finds its merit. Although the movie is shot entirely in Rio de Janeiro, we never get to see the outside of the shed, with two exceptions. It is by restraining the characters to one single environment that the filmmaker explores the relationship’s volatility and limits.
Júlia Murat offers a mature portrait of the artwork. Romanticism, fatalism or eccentricities associated with the figure of the misunderstood artist are absent from the project. On the contrary, the operation of both is concrete, mechanical, analog: the steps of it are precisely calculated, everything between them and in their space is meticulously mounted.  Even the sex between them is brute. They talk little, but seem to understand each other’s difficulties very well. As the camera almost never leaves the central floor, the viewer begins to know every inch of the scene, sharing the feeling of wear – loving and professional – that accompanies the artists.
The narrative is divided into chapters that suggest the slow degradation of the couple, only to surprise with poetic and complex possibilities of relationship. The strongest moments of the film lie in the mix of art with love: it is touching the way the dancer’s conflicts are transmitted in the rehearsals, and how the sculptor starts to modify his work due to the affective crisis
From the first scene where the two appear demarcating the spaces they use to create, it shows a kind of clash between the couple and from then on, at no time does this relationship seem perfectly harmonious. However, all the crises and this excessive repetition of rehearsal and construction scenes seem to lead nowhere during the show, much as the course of their relationship. Perhaps it is precisely because the movie deals with the process that a good situation of the film ends up looking completely wasted: when the woman, from the beginning intrigued with a thread, “The Line Project” as it is called, that passes through the middle of the apartment, questions the man about that object, he says that the place to where that thread is going does not matter, in a metaphor of how the process can be more important than the outcome. However, in the case of the two, not even the process appears to have been satisfactory. Pendular is perhaps a good portrait of a generation of artists who both talk about production but produce little. Pendular is not only about cinema, it is about contemporary dance and visual arts. And the magic that happens when you mix all of them together into a natural portrait that mirrors many of modern day relationships. 

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