There really isn’t much to do of an afternoon here, huh?
Well, self deprecation aside, thank you for coming.
Louise Stark should be spoken of in the same esteem as Bertolucci and Welles. The comparisons to Breillat are superficial. Stark was an incredible artist and her work demands exploration. The techniques she utilised from a career in marketing and music video production were tools and colours used to tell a particular story.
If you would please put on the headphones, I have taken the liberty of setting up two audio channels, one of which will be my commentary and the other a digitally enhanced mix of the audio soundtrack to Louise Stark’s film.
An Explanation of Love.
That hum you are hearing will soon be joined by a second note.
Do you feel that? It is setting up a resonance in your brain that is inducing a light hypnotic state.
I know that the title card is a little Dogme 95 but I see it as part of the overall aesthetic choices made in the film. The handwritten sign is evocative in its simplicity.
See. that’s Louise on the bench just in the opening shot. The hat is amusingly gauche.
Now this is the first shot of the protagonist. Her pensive expression. It lingers on her long enough to test your patience, but the music makes it all move inside your head.
The frequencies introduce another element to it. You can feel yourself opening to her and her conflict.
Raise your hand if you are experiencing it, right now? A low hum either in your stomach or your chest.
This sequence shows her inner conflict. Close ups of furtive lovers, hungry kisses, the shock effect of the two lovers against the tree. His hand inside her underwear as we watch them gaze into one another’s eyes.
Now it cuts back to her and we see that it’s all been in her head.
The title card, typewritten, breaks things up well.
Stark shoots her leading man so beautifully. If you note the colour choices here, it brings out the notes of gold in his tanned skin and the hair on his forearms. Look at how she lingers on his thick, strong hands as he picks the book from the shelf.
The next sequence is filmed like a fashion spread in a magazine. The lack of major brands in their clothing choices is a show of character and their mutual simplicity.
The rapid cuts and close ups show their attraction to one another. Her smile and dilated pupils. The flush in their faces as they talk.
Feel the hum of that in your stomach. What it must be like to be her? Or him?
He buys her the book, and although it is a chaste gesture, it is filmed and lit in such a way that it has the damp heat of erotica.
We are so used to cartoonish or tepid portrayals of male sexuality that Stark surprises us with an honest portrayal. There is a ridiculous amount of confidence on display here. He is willing to risk rejection and he expresses his interest in a playful manner. He engages with her, teases her, makes her laugh with rather than at herself.
The frequency has changed now. Let it run through you, it is generating pleasant amounts of arousal at this point.
When she asks him to discipline her, it is a tremendous scene. How she softens as he comes towards her, forceful but gentle, how you can imagine being either one of them with a palpable envy.
I’m going to be quiet now. There some things better felt than spoken about.
Now the use of split screen is fascinating. They reach through it, even though they are in different places. She straightens his tie and he kisses her before he turns over and goes to sleep.
The use of technology is potent here. The differences in the length and tone of their messages, the way that they advance their relationship in small bursts without losing their polarity.
Interdependence? Yes, I like that word.
Note how her messages scroll through, dense and rapid in comparison to his shorter replies.
She is provocative with her insecurities whereas he reveals his by degrees.
Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs is cited as an influence in how she filmed the sexual scenes.
His fingers in her mouth.
The smack of his palm against her flesh.
The way that her eyes close when she cries out in pleasure. The surrender she offers and the solidity of his masculine self-knowledge.
Now contrast that with how the camera softens and goes in as they embrace.
Her tears and vulnerability.
The paternal, taciturn way he holds her afterwards.
Her painting again and his writing How it reflects and captures their inner selves as they grow together. She is free to change on a whim and he remains, steadfast in the face of it. It lends itself to a sweet comedic note which seldom gets appreciated. He is the straight man in a comedic, passionate double act.
This shot, that started from a crane overhead and pans down into a tight close up of them as they meet.
The heartbeats have been enhanced as they were too low in the mix.
Is it time with yours? I noticed that the first time I watched and listened to it as you are now.
That final shot verges on the lurid, but it captures the intensity they have established at this point.
Yes, it is rather warm in here, isn’t it?
Now, we have another movie to watch.