Planetarium (2016)

Planetarium
Director: Rebecca Zlotowski
Writer: Rebecca Zlotowski, Robin Campillo
Cast: Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp, Emmanuel Salinger, Amira Casar, Pierre Salvadori, Louis Garrel, David Bennent, Damien Chapelle
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2016

Plot:
Kate (Lily-Rose Depp) and Laura (Natalie Portman) are sisters who make their living with performances of psychic readings, with Kate’s youthful innocence convincing people of her talents as a seer, while Laura controls the show. The two don’t just perform for big audiences, they also do private séances. One of these brings them to film producer André Korben (Emmanuel Salinger) who lost his wife. Korben takes to the two women, wanting to use them for his filming business. But his interest becomes more and more obsessive.

Planetarium has promise but unfortunately it’s too messy and unfocused to really deliver on that promise. Ultimately it starts to drag and simply left me unsatisfied.

If the film had been a little tighter, connected its various issues better or better yet, left some of this issues out, I don’t think it would have started to feel so incredibly long. But it simply got a bit much: we get the age-old question of magic versus science and technology; filmmaking and the advances thereof; antisemitism; and more. Each of these topics could have filled their own movie and since they weren’t really examined in their interactions with each other, it would have been good to drop a bit or two.

Especially since the film doesn’t really focus on any of the characters either but jumps around between the three main players – Laura, Kate and André. Personally, my vote would have gone to focusing on Laura, also because Natalie Portman was phenomenal in the role, an outright hypnotic performance.

While none of the performances were bad, the rest of the casting didn’t work for me. Lily-Rose Depp was too old for the role, as was Emmanuel Salinger for his role. It meant that Kate’s tantrums felt ridiculous and that the relationship that develops between Laura and André was even more uncomfortable (and chemistry-less) than it was to begin with (there are almost 20 years between Portman and Salinger and it looks like more). Those age “politics” had me puzzled the entire film.

It’s of course a chicken-egg question what came first: that I was so distanced from the film that I started obsessing about the age thing, or that my obsession kept me at a distance. Either way, it was annoying and made a weak film weaker still. At least it looked pretty and Portman was amazing. But I’m uncertain whether that’s enough to make the film actually worth it.

Summarizing: Meh.

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