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Raindance 2020 Film Review: The Average Color of the Universe

The Average Color of the Universe (2020) - source: Raindance

IMDB Link: The Average Color of the Universe (2020)
Director: Alexandra-Therese Keining
Writer: Alexandra-Therese Keining
Stars: Jennie Silfverhjelm, Zardasht Rad

Synopsis: In a life severely characterised by loss, a woman is in the borderland between the past and reality. Isolated but surrounded by the natural cycle, memory fragments flicker by and life seems like a vacuum.

This is a film unlike any other that I have seen in a long time, and I appreciate the ambition of the story. There are seven sections to the film, each split by a colour on the rainbow spectrum. Not only is this clever in linking to the theme of colours throughout the film, but the title cards are gorgeous and help give the film some form of structure in what is a loose narrative.

If there is one thing that stands out with The Average Color of the Universe, it is the cinematography and visuals. I was drawn to watch the film from the gorgeous poster, and the visuals in the film are just as beautiful. Whether it is a sequence of the universe and colours in focus, or the story and the camera focusing on Jennie Silfverhjelm and Zardasht Rad, the cinematography is outstanding and there are so many images that I would print out and hang up.

However, just because the film is visually stunning to watch does not mean the viewing experience was a good one. There is structure to the film, due to the separate headings and the link between colours of the universe and the reality that the film presents, but there is no real narrative. There is instead continuous flashbacks, showing the beginning of life as well as the best and worst moments of the journey throughout life. This may work for some people, but the continuous jump in narrative left me confused and disconnected.

This film has little to no dialogue throughout the 64-minute runtime. There are sounds, and when used the sound design is effective and well done. However, the absence of dialogue is one that hinders the progression of the film. Whether it is used to enhance the visuals on screen or to help the noises we do hear stand out, it sadly compromises narrative and emotional connection between the two characters in the film and I instead feel cold, not knowing what I was to make of the situation.

The 64-minute runtime is short, especially for a feature film. However, the runtime feels much longer without a strong narrative or even dialogue to help move the pacing along. This is a concept that I feel could work in the form of a short film, using five minutes for each colour and making it a 35-minute film. Not only would the ideas come across as more precise and tighter, but the issues of pacing and tone would have worked better with some editing.

This is a bizarre film experience, but one that I appreciate more than I like. There are some great concepts and ideas here, and I love how bold Alexandra-Therese Keining was with this story and filmmaking. I am definitely intrigued to see where she goes after this, but I sadly could not connect to The Average Color of the Universe.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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