Drift (2017)

Director: Helena Wittmann
Writer: Helena Wittmann, Theresa George
Cast: Theresa George, Josefina Gill
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2018

Two women spend time at the North Sea together. It is pleasant, but it is also finite and when they have to part, one (Josefina Gill) leaves for Argentina, while the other (Theresa George) heads to the Atlantic Ocean that carries her to her new destination.

Drift is an experimental film and I can image that it can develop quite a pull if you manage to lose yourself in it. I didn’t manage and the talk with the director after the film didn’t help improve my impression of the film either.

The film poster showing a grainy image of the ocean.

Film festivals can be quite exhausting, and with every film more you watch, the risk of being too tired to really enjoy them, increases. Drift was the first film I saw at the Viennale this year and when I went in, I was neither tired, nor exhausted. But it didn’t take long for me to feel like the film sucked all my energy out of me.

The film moves at a very slow pace. Wittmann stated after the film that it was important to her to show everything longer than what we usually get because only when we have the time to look, do we really see everything that’s going on. Well. For that theory to work, you have to make sure that people actually want to see – and my interest in looking at all at the film vanished pretty quickly.

A douple exposure film still, showing a woman on a ship in one layer, and the sea in the other.

And I’m not even talking about the second third or so of the film that is basically just images of the sea, set to strange music. I can imagine that this part will alienate a lot of people, but I could see its hypnotic appeal. I just couldn’t feel it because by that point I was already very tuned out of the film.

Wittmann was asked after the film if her film isn’t the kind of film that should be shown at a museum as art and she unfortunately didn’t answer that all films are art and that the cinema is a museum anyway, but rather said something like that there are many films that are art and not all can be played at the museum. That elitist answer gave me the rest and made me feel mostly frustrated by the entire experience.

A view of the ocean from a car, a woman's eyes visible in the mirror.

Summarizing: Didn’t work for me.

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