Sea Without Shore
Directed by Andre Senenza and Fernanda Lippi (who also co-stars in the film), the pair who co-founded physical theatre company Zikzira, Sea Without Shore is an unquestionably strange work of cinema that takes pride in dismantling conventions of the form to chronicle the relationship of two women. After the death of one of them, the survivor retreats into the wilderness, where she journeys still further into the realms of her own subconscious.
Avant-garde theatre brought to film, Sea Without Shore has a pull that initially draws the viewer in with curiosity and fascination. But, despite its short runtime, the repetition and dryness of the presentation quickly result in monotony and tedium. It is composed of a variety of interoperative dance sequences, recurring imagery, a soundscape of musical cues, and narration made up of selections of poetry by Katherine Philips, Renée Vivien, and Algernon Charles Swinburne. Perhaps the best way of describing this film would be by comparing it to a musical composition. There are distinct visual motifs that return, juxtaposed within a different context or with their own slight variation to give them new significance. But listening to the same piece of music without much in the way of changes to its tempo or dynamics – even when the central idea is so captivating – will likely lose the listener’s interest.
To continue with the music metaphor, this project has a lot of interweaving parts: it’s cinema, it’s theatre, it’s poetry, it’s dance. It’s an exploration of love and loss, of the subconscious and the fantastical. And as you might expect, these ideas don’t always chime together, with some (particularly the poetry) appearing squeezed in for the sake of the filmmakers’ own self-indulgence. Given that Marcus Waterloo’s cinematography is genuinely spectacular, the lack of one clear vision is all the more frustrating.
As a conceptual piece, Sea Without Shore is cinema at its purest, blending theatre, music, poetry, and cinematography together and simultaneously shattering all preconceptions about what cinema should be to tell an intimate and provocative tale. In execution, however, it is a dull, dry, and ultimately confused venture.
Sea Without Shore is released in select cinemas on 6th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for Sea Without Shore here: