Luana Velia, Jan Bluthardt, Nadja Stubiger, Johannes Benecke, Julia Riedler
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If you’re willing to go with it, there’s an exhilaration at the sheer audacity of a filmmaker bringing this kind of storytelling perspective to bear on a genre picture.
Lars von Trier’s Dogville comes to mind while watching Luz. Its stripped-back examination of the cinematic form and sequences featuring ‘set-less’ scene construction bear similarity to the intent of Tilman Singer with this, his debut feature.
It’s at once a synth-soaked ‘80s-inflected demon possession thriller but also an experiment in narrative re-structuring and re-jigging conventional cinematic storytelling language. It plays with event chronology as well as depicting sequences played out through re-enactments of the events by individuals who are demon-possessed, their actions controlled by a literal puppet-master.
Nora (Julia Riedler) meets Doctor Rossini (Jan Blurhardt) in an empty bar. Nora buys drink after drink for the doctor, intent on getting him plastered. Rossini mentions he’s a psychiatrist and eventually the two disappear to the restroom where Nora moves to kiss Rossini and a strange glow begins to emanate from her mouth. The kiss is less romantic and more like a regurgitation of food. Whatever is animating Nora vanishes after the transition into Rossini and Nora drops to the floor unconscious.
Rossini then shows up to a police station, where Luz (Luana Velia), a taxi driver, is being held for questioning after a car accident. As Detective Bertillion (Nadja Stubiger) watches, along with translator Olarte (Johannes Benecke), Rossini creepily places Luz under hypnosis and steers the unwitting woman through re-enacted scenarios in the room which further unravel the story and reveal just what the hell might be going on.
Dialogue is repeated by different characters within various contexts, this puzzle-like, fractal recycling of dialogue and alternating perspectives of the scenes themselves creates different conceptual layers through which this film can be understood and digested.
Like Nolan’s Memento was an exercise is deconstructing form to tell a genre story, Luz fragments the narrative structure as well as the form itself. The story, as it is, is something of a lo-fi reworking of the 1987 sci-fi action-horror The Hidden. The emphasis here is on atmosphere and there’s a good deal of creepiness elicited as Singer works within his budgetary limitations utilising the unique structure and format to spark audiences’ imaginations.
If you’re willing to go with it, there’s an exhilaration at the sheer audacity of a filmmaker bringing this kind of storytelling perspective to bear on a genre picture. Fascinating stuff.