Echo(Icelandic, Amazon Prime)
Director, screenplay: Rúnar Rúnarsson. Camera (color): Sophia Olsson. Editor: Jacob Secher Schulsinger. Music: Kjartan Sveinsson.
Echo Review: Seek this one out the soonest, if you are fan of unorthodox cinema. Films that dare to push the envelope so far the narrative topples over the precipice into the abyss where we the audience are supposed to look for meanings that do not make themselves evident immediately.
For example, why is Echo , the Icelandic masterpiece by Runar Runarsson/ shaped like a shapeless souvenir , the one that won’t fit on your mantelpiece. Dammit , it won’t even stand steady on the surface.
As we grope for some semblance of a centre to the goings on in Echo it becomes clearer than ever this is a celebration of the opposite of integration. 56 stories, 79 minutes. That’s what we have. During those episodic minutes of this precious film’s playing -time characters come for barely a few minutes, sometimes less.
They all have a story to tell. But we can only imagine what they are letting us into. There is no explanation for what they are doing and why. It is Chrismas eve in Iceland , and the atmosphere is snowed under revelry and tension. Director Rúnar Rúnarsson takes us through 56 vignettes, fleeting shots into multiple lives as seen through the window of a speeding train. I felt like the alcoholic in The Girl On The Train, peeping into an apartment as the train passes by, imagining what must be going on with the people we barely see from that distance.Are they happy? Not particularly . Are they sad? Not permanently.
To be honest I can’t even remember all the snapshots that constitute this astonishingly freewheeling cinema of enormous eccentricity. The vignettes that left the deepest impression are the one where two very kind socialworkers make a drugaddict’s Christmas a happy one with a gift, and a little girl who plans a piano recital as a gift to her father only to be upstaged by his daughter from another marriage.
Though the plot lines are slight the sound of the breaking heart is heard loud and clear. Parents and children try to find a common ground, office goers who can’t get away from Christmas miss their family… through all of this I looked for a common link. There are none.
Echo simply moves on , from one vignette to another, emplying a technique of storytelling that is at once exasperating and fascinating. The former for its lack of steady storytelling. The latter for that very reason.You may not come away from Echo with much of a story to tell. Buy you will definitely wonder what that was all about.