The Wayward Cloud

So bizarre it almost defies attempts at interpretation. It's a romance without conversation – communication achieved through bottled water, watermelons, food, cigarettes and, finally, porn, which mediates the couple's lovemaking in a disturbing way. The kitch musical numbers are little windows into the soul set against the static shots of dingy appartments and their silent inhabitants. But if the film is supposed to be about the inherent loneliness and alienation of modern life, it takes a great deal of absurdist joy in it. It reminded me a little of Tampopo in its series of loosely unconnected sight gags and focus on food as a proxy for dialogue.

The porn we see being made is ludicrous, and becomes an opportunity for wry jokes rather than titillation. However, the final scene may be designed to shock us out of that complacency. The female porn performer is comatose, and laboriously positioned by the crew in different poses so that the shoot can continue. The lack of consent is unsettling – a stark warning about the danger of treating others as things rather than people. But the sequence is also about how pornography literally comes between the couple in the film. The male porn actor humps a lifeless piece of flesh while looking at the face of the woman he really wants to be with, and she, in sympathy and sadness, starts encouraging his behaviour. But then she is also unwillingly forced into the action – the voyeur is raped as well. Is that an encouragement to the audience to consider the conditions under which their entertainment is made? Or is it just a warning about divorcing and abstracting sex from the lived reality of relationships? Either way, it's a bleak ending to a strange, sometimes ponderous, but often charming study of modern love.

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