Pretentious filmmaking is something I'll never completely enjoy, but I've at least come to terms with. In fact, Melancholia, a Lars von Trier film pretentious in almost every sense of the word, was one of my favorite films to be released last year. However, a fine line exists between pretension and utter self-indulgence; a line which Trier walked very well through stunning cinematography, and obtaining breathtaking performances from his willing cast. While Melancholia played at the Cannes film festival akin to the subject of this review, it's sadly not the best comparison to form in terms of cinematic quality. Rather, a far better example would be the its subpar festival companion; Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty. A brutally slow paced film about elderly men who relieve their perverse fantasies through a comatose escort, this very indulgent (also reviewed!) drama has more in common with Pater other than plot subtleties. Director Alain Cavalier, who plays himself as a character as well, has concocted a hopelessly dull crawl of a film, which unlike Leigh, cannot compensate for lack of general narrative or written characters with cinematography due to a mockumentary format coupled with extreme micro-budgeting. It's a perfect storm of dilemmas; no well established characters, no real plot, no regard for cinematography, and more unnecessary monologues sharing political viewpoints than an off-broadway one man show. The deadly fusion of these four characteristics results in complete boredom.
After viewing Pater, I'm almost debating with myself whether I accidentally viewed a rough cut of the film by mistake. Cavalier has done an almost nonexistent job editing his film, which makes me question the very logic of the Cesar awards for the nomination of director, let alone picture. Between this and Sleeping Beauty, it also partially forces me to question those responsible for Cannes submissions as well, but to a far lower degree. Hopefully those were truly the only two real mess-ups for the whole festival, and it's bad luck I happened to watch both of them. Maybe I'm right; I was given a rough cut by accident. Everything would be clearly explained, except how to return the 105 minutes back into my lifespan.