Home Issue 7 Olmo and the Seagull

Olmo and the Seagull

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Screened as part of CPH:DOX 2014

A co-directed feature from CPH:LAB, this time from Brazil and Denmark. And once again, it’s even more international, as the film follows an Italian-French couple as they realize that they are pregnant. Both of the two main characters are actors, and the title refers to the name of their unborn son as well as the name of the play by Chekhov, which the woman, Olivia, can’t participate in anymore once the pregnancy becomes complicated and she’s forced to spend all her time at home.

It’s an extremely intimate portrait. One of the earliest scenes shows Olivia peeing on her pregnancy test, and throughout the film the camera examines her naked, pregnant body. The film also is unflinching in it’s portrait of the problems and annoyances brought on by the pregnancy, and the inability to move anywhere. The relationship becomes quite strained, as Olivia logically enough becomes more and more frustrated, while her boyfriend Serge all of a sudden has to earn enough money for the both of them. At times there are sudden breaks in the narrative, where the actors will ask the directors what they want them to do. As such, it also becomes a look at performance or the lack thereof, and the exhibitionism and bravery needed to be an actor. While the film draws attention to it’s own construction, most of the film doesn’t read as fake, more as a portrait of two persons who are in their very nature theatrical. Acting is in some ways what they do.

Since this film is a production of CPH:LAB, it’s possible to see the description of the proposed film from way back when it began. Then, it was supposed to be a lot like Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf’s famous modernist novel on a day in the life of a housewife, culminating in a party. The film apparently gave up on that construction, which would have required a pretty complex flashback structure, but it still concludes with a final party arranged by Olivia. A gathering for her friends from back in Italy, it gives the second half of the film an arc with a pretty powerful payoff. However, perhaps that payoff would have felt more complete if the party had been introduced earlier, as it is, there is a feeling that the conclusion of the film mainly concludes problems only introduced a short while before. Nevertheless, the film is an intimate look at a life-changing experience.