Tuesday, 21 March 2017

MFFF REVIEW: PLANETARIUM



5/10

Laura and Kate Barlow are two American sisters travelling to Paris in the early forties. They perform at a local cabaret, where their act is talking to the dead. During one of the performances they are noticed by the famous producer Andre Korben. He invites them to his house and into his life. His aim is to capture a ghost on film...

The genre of PLANETARIUM is hard to define. Is it a love story? A ghost story? A war time drama? The movie moves at a leisurely pace, focuses only on a handful of characters and it devotes the screening time to somewhat disjointed scenes that one would expect to come together at a later stage. But that moment never comes.

Natalie Portman is a fine actress, but her duo with Lily-Rose Depp lacks credibility. They are, however,
 both wonderful to watch. The real star here is Emmanuel Salinger as an eccentric millionaire obsessed with spiritualism. He is odd and charismatic, the way characters in David Lynch movies are. He is based on the real producer Bernard Natan, the man responsible for the creation of the famous studio Pathe. The film follows his real life with such precision it could have been a biopic.

The film is intriguing, to say the least, but the intrigue is drowned in disappointment. Director Rebecca Zlotowski is an engaging storyteller,  even when she has no real story to tell, so the film is never boring.

It is hard to understand where the name PLANETARIUM came from. Is it the allegory of the movie business, where all one does is watch the stars on parade? One can only wonder. Everything that happens in the film seems to be detached from reality, but at the same time it is too grounded to be surreal. The pointlessness of PLANETARIUM is its enigma but it is also its downfall.

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