‘Aloft’: infinite sadness with a touch of the metaphysical

Award-winning Peruvian female director Claudia Llosa brings together an international cast lead by Jennifer Connelly in her latest movie and”Aloft,and” which premiered in the 2014 Berlin Film Festivaland’s competition section.
Subtle yet fierce, the film has Llosaand’s specific directorial touch of delving into repressed and traumatic emotions, and once again she focuses on a lead female character.
The film starts off in a pig farm, as Nana (Connelly) helps a mother pig in labor. Nana has a nonchalant relationship with one of her co-workers in this North American community (we are never specifically told where it is) struck by destitution and depression. She has two sons, the older Ivan and the younger Gully. The obstinate Ivan is keen on falconry and he travels everywhere with his pet falcon, while Gully is more of a naive and fragile boy. Sadly, the younger boy is suffering from a deadly disease that no doctors seem to have a cure for. Nana, like any mother who doesnand’t want to give up on her child, will try everything, even visit a man who calls himself a shaman and claims he can cure everything. The shamanand’s system is unique he is a traveling man who calls upon the entire community to his tent made of sticks and subjects the visitors to a cruel lottery system that allows treatment for only one family. The ceremony goes entirely wrong due to Ivanand’s wondering falcon, and Nana becomes a target of the community. Yet, the shaman later convinces Nana that she also has the healing touch.
Cut to 20 years later — Ivan is now a grown man (played by Cillian Murphy) who works professionally in the field of falconry. He is married with a child but seems to be direly depressed and angry at the world. His brother and mother are nowhere to be found. At this point Llosa shifts the gears of the story into a puzzle-like tense mystery where we go back and forth between the past and the present, trying to figure out what happened to Nana and Gully.
With the visit of young French documentary maker Jannia (Melanie Laurent), who tells Ivan that sheand’s shooting a film about falconry, things get ever more complicated. She might have a different agenda after all, since she says that she will travel further up north to see Nana, who now herself poses as a shaman-esque figure curing the terminally ill. Ivan hasnand’t seen her in 20 years and is repelled by the mention of his mother ever since she abandoned him for her new life. Nevertheless, he decides to join Jannia on her journey and finally confront Nana. Thus they embark on a long, tiresome and difficult trail along the wintry landscape beautifully shot by cinematographer Nicholas Bolduc, who manages to capture the eerie loneliness of a surreal white terrain, which becomes a metaphor for Ivanand’s and Nanaand’s personal heartbreaks.
As the story progresses to its intertwined climax between past and present, we finally get to witness the jigsaw come together — an unfortunate act of fate that strikes tragedy on Nana and her small boys that leads to guilt, anger and an irreparable rift between Nana and Ivan. The question is whether the two can ever forgive each other, and even if they do, can a child ever accept that a mother has abandoned him even if she has her own justifiable reasons?
and”Aloftand” tries to dig deep into the psychologies of each of its characters and endeavors to reveal to the viewer how individuals might act in the face of tragedy. There is no judgment in Llosaand’s lens her concern is to understand with compassion why Nana and Ivan do what they do, not to berate them for their actions. This is the strength of the directorand’s work. However, Llosaand’s strength in capturing the complexity of her characters does not fully establish itself in the filmand’s structure and tempo. While some plot points make sense and we can put the pieces of the jigsaw together, others are left in the air, leaving us in confusion between the time periods. Nevertheless, Llosaand’s elegant visual style and her interest in the concept of mysticism (whether it might be genuine or a complete hoax) presents itself as a unique point of view in her work. Perhaps mysticism and the need to believe in it is the last resort when all else has failed, or maybe it just makes things worse, yet what is utterly clear here is that nothing can ever change the past and confrontation is key in order to move into the future.
Connelly is stunning as Nana and Murphy gives a heartfelt, tormented performance as the older Ivan, and though and”Aloftand” can sometimes be too slow-paced and enigmatic for its own good, the presence of these two actors helps to elevate Llosaand’s film to a higher level of cinematic prowess. This is a film for those who are keen on introspection for other viewers it might be a drag to watch.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman