“What was it that makes a movie a one or two star”, I asked my just acquainted seat mate. We were sitting in the front row of the Portland International Film Festival, so I could see the subtitles with no interfering head.   “Where is this going?” she answered about the movie plot, not my line of questioning.

There are languorous scenes of street corners or landscape vistas that aren’t emotive, neither gorgeous nor depressing. Apparently the director wants you to become used to their essential commonality, their ordinariness as if that builds tension or sets us up for surprise.  But then it doesn’t. There are no surprises.  What is planned as extraordinary seems a dull comma in an indecipherable paragraph.  Nothing happens.  And we’re returned to the ordinary.  If the theme was boredom or anomie it succeeded. But I don’t appreciate art enough to be impressed with a depiction of the lower levels of joi d’vivre that humanity faces.

And I do appreciate dialog.  Why is it that countries often nominate as their best film of the year for international competition is so completely visual with little use of speech to add meaning? At least a little more music might heighten our imagination rather than the authentic sound effects of daily motors and wind and movement crunching gravel.

One fellow audience tells me that everything in the movie was supposed to be a dream, snatches of something with no plot arc.  No rising or falling of engagement.  Ho hum. Done.