Olmo & the Seagull
Director: Petra Costa, Lea Glob
Writer: Petra Costa, Lea Glob
Cast: Olivia Corsini, Serge Nicolai
Part of: Scope100 (last year, I participated in the Scope50 project)
Seen on: 3.1.2016
Olivia (Olivia Corsini) and Serge (Serge Nicolai) are expecting a baby. They are both actors/dancers and are currently preparing Chekhov’s Seagull. Olivia wants to finish the project and go on tour which should be just finished before the baby is due. But then complications arise and Olivia is forced to stay at home while Serge continues to work, leading to quite some tension.
Olmo and the Seagull tackles an interesting subject in an interesting way but ultimately despite its best attempts, it doesn’t really manage to get under the surface of things, outside of a few moments.
Olmo and the Seagull is somewhere between a documentary and a fictional film. While it is about an actual couple and their actual pregnancy, there are moments when the illusion of non-interfering documentation are very obviously broken, where we suddenly hear the directors giving orders, where Corsini starts discussing what she’s doing. Those moments where probably the most interesting thing about the film. I particularly liked the part where Corsini examines her face in the mirror, trying to trace the way her roles have inscribed themselves in her face – these wrinkles are from that role where I frowned a lot and this line is from that role where I always smiled etc. In a simple, yet impressive way we are forced to consider where the actor ends and the role begins (and vice versa), as much as we are forced to ask ourselves where the documentary ends and the fiction begins. They are all performances after all.
But the film is not only about that, but also very much about Olivia’s pregnancy. Olivia and Serge apparently planned for the baby, they are certainly happy and excited about it. They’ve made plans, they thought things through. But how does the saying go? Life happens while you’re busy making plans. And when it turns out that the baby actually gets in the way of things, that they actually need to change their life, Olivia in particular is very ambivalent about it – she has to spend months on the couch after all, slowly going crazy with boredom. Who wouldn’t be annoyed by that?
It is rare that we get such a frank look at pregnancy that doesn’t paint it as either the best thing that ever happened to the mother or the worst thing that ever happened to her. And it is certainly rarely acknowledged that it isn’t so much being pregnant as it is doing pregnant. When Serge comes home one time, Olivia tells him what she did that day: she made a couple of fingers and a liver, pointing out with a nice wink that babies don’t just appear fully formed
Despite all those things though, I didn’t warm to the film and I spent most of the time being hugely bored by it. I practically summarized all the best moments in this review, the moments where the film actually has something to say. All the other time, it coasts along and doesn’t really get to a point. Ultimately it just didn’t manage to convince me as a film.