About Endlessness (4 stars)

About Endlessness

Sweden's Roy Andersson delivers a typically idiosyncratic reflection on the human condition

A film that speaks profoundly, if indirectly, to our current predicament, About Endlessness has been mooted as the last work from celebrated Swedish director Roy Andersson (You, the Living). Winner of the 2019 Venice International Film Festival's Silver Lion, it's a mere 76-minutes of wide-ranging human experience, that's tremendously sensitive to both the absurdity and agony of living.

Viewed through a prism of Andersson's pathos, cynicism and personal struggles, a dour, grey-tinged aesthetic is once again adopted as we're taken through a series of often very brief and largely unconnected vignettes – though a few characters reoccur.

Narrated by a fairy or God-like woman who witnesses it all, About Endlessness cuts from a new mother breaking her heel in a station to the aftermath of an honour killing, and from a man pleading for his life during wartime to a café scene where teens dance unselfconsciously to a jolly ditty to the bemusement of the customers. Although Hitler features fleetingly and the film finds lovers floating above a ruined city singing an operatic lament, it's as often concerned with the everyday, ending on perhaps the most mundane predicament of them all.

Andersson is a director of singular, unmistakable vision and, with its short, occasionally amusing and always absorbing scenes, About Endlessness is very watchable, even if it might seem like an offputtingly avant-garde proposition. In many ways it doesn't differ significantly from his recent work. Is the sense of despair greater this time round? It's hard to say, or to remove it from the context it has landed in. But, as ever, Andersson captures people in crisis with real acuity, as he once again sees the unseen. He's here for humanity, of that there is no doubt.

Following Being a Human Person, the recent and highly revealing documentary about Andersson's work, which gave huge insight into this particular film's production, it's interesting to view this with such a clear picture of what has gone into making it. We've seen Andersson's demons and creative torment laid bare and the way the crew utilised some of the oldest and most magical movie methods to create exteriors inside the filmmaker's Stockholm studio. The finished product, it turns out, is wonderful.

Available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema from Fri 6 Nov.

About Endlessness

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • Sweden / Germany / Norway
  • 1h 18min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Roy Andersson
  • Cast: Bengt Bergius, Anja Broms, Marie Burman

Highly acclaimed Swedish director Roy Andersson is back with yet another mirror to modern life reflecting on our feelings, thoughts and deeds.