Ritual: A Psychomagic Story @ Fantasia

ritual a psychomagic storyWatching this film was like living in a surrealist painting for 100 minutes.  It was a bizarre experience.  I was never sure what was happening and forget about what was coming next. It does move in a linear fashion, but to call it abstract is an understatement.

Lia (Désirée Giorgetti) meets Viktor (Ivan Franek) at an art gallery.  The attraction is instantaneous.  They fall quickly into a relationship.  It is a relationship based on sex.  Viktor is a very jealous and possessive man.  He is a powerful middle aged man and she is a younger less sure of herself woman.  Soon they are living together.  One evening Lia tells Viktor she is pregnant.  He tells her he will take care of it.  Lia has an abortion.

The guilt over having the abortion is wreaking havoc on Lia.  Lia is not strong psychologically and this guilt sends her into a depression.  Her depression gets worse and worse.  Their relationship begins to suffer.  Even Viktor does not know what to do so her finally agrees to her going to her Aunt Agata’s (Anna Bonasso) to rest.  Her aunt lives in the Italian countryside in an 18th century villa.

Aunt Agata is a woman who performs rituals on people in her town, reads tarot cards, etc.  It is claimed that she cures people.  Lia, who spent much of her childhood here, hopes that Agata can do something for her.  Sitting back and waiting for Agata to perform some sort of hocus pocus on Lia is not something Viktor can do.  He charges into the situation like a bull in a china shop.

From the very first scenes the visuals give us all we need to know about the two main characters.  Viktor pursuing and leering at Lia.  He wants to control her and Lia allows it to happen.  Much of how the directors tell the story is through the visuals.  Whether it is the hallucinations that Lia is having or the clothes, which are quite bondage like, she wears, all of this attempts to tell us what we need to know about what is going on.  The visuals are all very severe and fixed which is not a problem in itself, but the directors don’t really do anything with it.  There is no real follow through.  Rather than draw you in with its odd style it pushes you away because it is detached and somber.  The ball was dropped maybe because the story lets down the stylistic intentions of the filmmakers.

Everything in the film tries to be edgy.  The viewer is supposed to be uncomfortable about what is going on.  From the sadomasochistic nature of Lia and Viktor’s relationship to the odd rituals that Agata performs on people they are all meant to keep the tension up in the film.

As I said, I was really confused watching the film.  Was it a statement about abortion?  Was it an examination of rituals and their place in the world and our lives?  The storyline sets off in several different directions and then doesn’t really follow through in any of them.  Too bad because sexual obsession and madness could make for a very interesting and involving story.

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