Aloys

 

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The inner life of a loner portrayed in a way that invites the viewer to interpret what is shown.

 

Aloys

Georg Friedrich

 

A co-production between many countries headed by Switzerland and France, Aloys is a first feature by writer/director Tobias Nölle who also acts as editor here. It is a striking calling card which starts off magnificently but then, according  to the taste of the viewer, it either falls away into repetition and obscurity (which is my feeling) or creates a hauntingly mysterious world of its own and maintains that to the end. If you should deduce from that comment that this could be a cult film in the making, I think you would be  right.

 

The splendid opening focuses on Aloys Adorn (Georg Friedrich) a private investigator in the firm of Adorn and Son who has just lost his father. If he is a man now bereaved, he is also a loner whose occupation keeps him at a distance from the world. A typical case finds him taking video pictures on behalf of a wife who believes, correctly, that her husband is betraying her and when alone in his abode Aloys plays back his  videos containing images linked to his work but also featuring pictures of his late father. As a sad portrait of an empty existence viewed not without a touch of dark but gentle humour, Nölle's film, made with careful attention to composition and to sound, brings to mind the bleak observation of Sweden's Roy Andersson.

 

So far, so very good: but after his tapes have been stolen Aloys receives a phone call from a woman who speaks as though she is the thief and enticingly invites him to enter a fresh world conjured up by concentrating on sounds and what they allow him to imagine. Later the woman on the phone seems to be an ignored neighbour, Vera (Tilde von Overbeck), who attempted suicide. Not without an echo of the madness that overtook Gene Hackman's investigator in The Conversation (1974), Aloys goes on from there in a fantastical mode that could be regarded as a view of what is going on in the head of the central character. As such, it could be a portrayal of a man grieving the death of his father or of a person losing his sanity or as a stylised comment on how most of us look inward seeking personal happiness with scant regard for the needs of those around us.

 

How the viewer should interpret the piece is left open and some may find a richness in that but I found the uncertainties, rammed home as such, ultimately frustrating. But Nölle is true to his vision and it can't be stressed too much that responses to Aloys are likely to be a matter of taste - and in that connection it's probably good news for Nölle that David Lynch's incredibly mysterious Mulholland Drive has just won a critics' vote as the best film (so far) of the 21st century.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tilde von Overbeck, Agnes Lampkin.


Dir Tobias Nölle, Pro Christof Neracher, Christian Davi and Thomas Thümena, Screenplay Tobias Nölle, Ph Simon Guy Fässler, Pro Des Su Erdt, Ed Tobias Nölle, Music Tom Huber and Beat Jegen, Costumes Leonie Zykan.


Hugofilm/Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen/Petit Film-Eureka Entertainment.
91 mins. Switzerland/France/Italy/The Netherlands/Germany. 2016. Rel: 23 September 2016. Cert. 12A
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