Film: The Academy of Muses
Director: José Luis Guerín
Cast: Raffaele Pinto, Emanuela Forgetta, Mireia Iniesta, Carolina Llacher, Rosa Delor Muns
Text: Yeonwoo Baik
Raw materials of novelty woven into an incoherent patchwork
The film can be seen as divided largely into two parts. In the beginning, professor Raffaele Pinto, his students, and his wife are involved in a drawn out yet lively and heated discussion about human desire, the role of language and literature in love, the positions and directions of literary muses, etc. The debate continues, but as the film unfolds, the focus moves to the more private and intimate spheres of the characters’ lives.
The most notable element that distinguishes “The Academy of Muses” from other dramas is its format. The film is essentially fictional, but it tricks the viewers into believing that they are watching some kind of documentary. A lot of the filmography is done using hand-held cameras, and the pictures and focuses are quite plain. In addition, the modes of content presentation are somewhat bland, without an over-complicated and decorative adoption of cinematography.
The plot has the potential to be developed into a novel final product, which might have the capacity to show how intellectual debates can be intimately combined with the private spheres of human lives. Indeed, the contents of the words are intriguing enough, even without all those colourful viewpoints. However, it is hard to say that this fresh approach has been well utilised.
The effectiveness of the way in which the plot unfolds is doubtful. The audience is bombarded with extra-ordinary language for the entire first half of the movie, a language of academic and poetic exploration. The amount of information overwhelms the audience making it difficult for us to maintain our concentration. There are very few ‘breathers’ allowing enough time for the appreciation of what has just been said, meaning a lot of valuable messages simply float by in vain.
As 98% of the film seems to be comprised of complex dialogue, the pictures are usually close-ups of the characters talking. This combination is effective in that it successfully demonstrates the intimate, non-verbal languages and emotions conveyed along with the words spoken. However, since this is all there is to the pictures, they become problematically monotonous. The abrupt cuts of the picture during one continuous scene do not seem to yield specific meanings and effects.
«The Academy of Muses» certainly has interesting materials in its hands – both in form and content – but the way in which the director weaves them together seems to have failed to make good use of them. It feels as if the director was in too much of a hurry to show-case his material and, as a result, has ended up producing an incoherent patchwork.