Roy Andersson’s final film, About Endlessness, is nearly as blunt as its title. As one of the masters of contemporary world cinema, the Swedish auteur has put his signature mark on this piece through droll, absurdist comedy constructed visually within long takes, frosty colours and satirical performances. His influence can be seen in the works of many modern filmmakers, including his famed protégé Ruben Östlund. Whilst this movie is Andersson-esque all the way through, it is much more poignant than usual, focusing on weightier topics with a more sombre touch than his norm. However, the impact of this resonant departure from his oeuvre can only truly be felt by those who are pre-existing fans of his.
Much like his previous works – those unacquainted should search for the Living trilogy – About Endlessness is made up of a series of self-contained vignettes that muse on various themes, from faith and death to regret and shame. The existential feature is a microcosm of the human condition, the title of which aptly boils the film down to its essence. There are great aesthetic and philosophical pleasures to be derived from Andersson’s last artistic statement and his staunchest admirers will be best equipped to identify the careful deviations in his idiosyncratic approach to filmmaking.
However, many viewers may be left cold. The picture is largely formless and the soft-voiced narrator reconfigures one’s interpretation of each sequence as it plays out, which potentially could leave observers to not exactly understand what they just watched. Those with no context for the director’s style will be a taciturn bunch by the end – especially as he reaches deeper into despair through some heavy scenarios. The movie pushes further away from his usual dry humour and thus provides less entertainment value than others of his typically have.
About Endlessness has a guaranteed audience who will undoubtedly enjoy the movie as they know exactly what they’re in for. But for those who are left confounded in any way, it is suggested to supplement the experience with a viewing of the new documentary Being a Human Person which explores the life and filmography of Andersson, including the creative process of this closing entry.
About Endlessness is released nationwide on 6th November 2020.
Watch the trailer for About Endlessness here: