Telemachus looks out to sea, waiting for the return of Ulysses, the Father. In Lack – Purgatory, instead, it is Ulysses, a woman, whom we see from behind. Which she will then speak of a daughter, after having (re) entered into a symbolic womb, in the ship she is in command of her. Her crew travels with her, but is not at her side.
She is placed in a non-place (near? distant?) of atonement, Purgatory. The water flows, she reflects. Multiply the figures, double the perception. Reverses, flips, mixes. Stefano Odoardi amplifies the dripping of the glass of his previous film La pluie; around the image of Angélique Cavallari divided by four and makes it into a sea (Mediterranean).
Invitation to travel
In Lack-Purgatory the game of mirrors is explicit right from the initial subjective view of the sea mirage that unites and divides, separates and recomposes. Is it really her to watch, the Angel / Angélique shot from behind, in turn observed by an interlocutor narrator, the director’s implacable alter-ego, or double of the spectator?
Or is it the bodyless, collective gaze, image for single eyes, the wandering of waiting souls, the inhabitants of the Earth, united in communion in the body of the Angel Odysseus (and, as we shall see, of the spectator)? Who holds the other (numerous) grainy subjective, contemplative or sudden, in super-8? What is that bursting, overexposed of light or, on the contrary, immersed in the dark, of other celibate images? Blurry or hyper-defined, all yearning for a reunion.
Unusual images surrounded by water-beyond. Waters-beyond-the-mirror that are a liquid reverse of the stony Lack-Hell, where damnation was the breaking of the unexpected reality, materialized in the earthquake, the earth reduced to crumbs. In Lack-Purgatory, hoping, we despair in the opposite semi-vegetative stasis, in the place with no exit and without shocks, a sign of deadly habit, arid construction of a single block.
A mental darkness lapped by water, the equivalent in waves of clarifying light. The Angel, which rather refers to the sign (to the dream?) Of a Great liquid Mother, source of refreshment, still embodies the path of the soul’s ascent: the unity of the multiple, the epitome in flight (traveling) of that vain wait for the semi-damned.
The montage alternates her face and their face moved by the wind, the ship on which the woman embarks and the terrace crossed by wandering souls. As if they were a single unconscious, the same body / place. Indeed, that multiple stasis pushes the single woman into the sea, on the cargo that crosses the liquid kingdom reflected in the sky to which souls aspire.
The same water that purifies and dissolves, washes and removes guilt, leads back to another Earth. The wet flames, fluid of desire, burn and sway under the balcony on which the condemned are forced: precisely in antithesis to the unnatural condition of their non-being. Specular contrast between the block of souls and the action of the Angel. They are still waiting, she is traveling, in command of a ship on the sea of life.
Lack-Purgatory tells only this, but transmigrating from one side to the other of meaning. The sensations are the facts and each element (object, place, face, dress, word, sound, stylistic choice) becomes a fabula rasa of potential narratives. Odoardi saturates, desaturating it, his own unwritten text (and the literary texts from which he starts: Homer, Paul Éluard, Allen Ginsberg), composing an Odyssey without history yet full of echoes.
Although reduced to the bone, there are the journey, the lonely path, an Argo dog (and the barking of a psychopomp dog), the siren song, the waiting, the father-son relationship (mother-daughter), metamorphosis, love. And even Joyce’s mental time (first basic idea of the film) plus cinephile implications, starting from the titanic Godard of Film Socialisme to the Homeric one of Le mépris, focused on the devastating Odyssey of a couple. And, if in addition to the subtle description of a loss and discovery of the Self, of a memory, the film was also the chronicle of a finished, rediscovered love?
Everything becomes fluid, undifferentiated, indeterminate, prima materia . Everything splits, branches, rejoins, merges and merges within that flow associated with the changing movement of united divided things. The journey, which is always a wait, nourishes and generates the other, opposed, (at) tending to be static (and vice versa). Just think of the Freudian maternal meaning of the balcony and that traveling mother alone. The film, itself water , divides and unites all its components.
The angel woman is also water (pure water): «naked, dissolved, solitary, rare, sublime, vivid, first, sovereign, relentless, unforgivable». Water / cinema of the unconscious that unites Ulysses and Penelope together in a single body, in the manner of a trinity, their son Telemachus and the latter’s complex . Angélique leaves behind (so often framed) the darkness of the night of the suitors to arrive at the light of Paradise / (in) Earth.
It is an opposite Nosferatu re-spring that loads coffins / containers similar to Jungian alchemical vessels, the Kraters of Gnostic spiritual transformation. The two-faced being therefore in search of a Father (or an opposite masculine principle complementary to the feminine powers), simultaneously beckoning, like one of the soul women, to a daughter (a son) to meet (where another soul, this time male, he speaks instead of a son present with him, in Purgatory).
Personifies the pilgrimage of opposing primal forces, male / female polarity. And also mother / daughter / o. We are in a circle. The Great Mother Angel, the Great Sea Angel, must necessarily take refuge in her mother’s womb, inside the ship, to be re-born and re-flow.
The face of Angélique Cavallari is that of an all too human diva, with a distant gaze present at the same time: precisely the perfect personification of Stefano Odoardi’s concretely abstract cinema. The narrator / voice (by Sebastiano Filocamo) questions her, and she ends up addressing him as if it were that Animus from which she had separated.
An important moment where it is the cinematographic language that becomes narration, form-content. It stylistically concretizes the union-cut that sanctions the recognition of the Other and the awareness of one’s own finitude (“youth is a treasure, / old age a treasure …”); the conclusion of one’s wandering and, finally, the anamnesis. Consequent, in fact, to the abandonment of the egotic life jackets by the inhabitants of the Earth. When the latter, disappeared, coincide with the Angel who dissolves into a woman.
In Lack-Purgatory in the dialogue between the narrator and the narrated, there is a hint of a finished relationship, an evident fracture that occurred. To have interrupted something, like one of the souls, without continuing it. What has (had) happened? This is where the cargo utopia of the film takes shape: the cult of the cargo (cargo) against the dystopian time of the (current) reality. «The weight of the world / is love».
Perhaps this is why the Angel’s clothing is modeled, albeit with the signs of an imminent mutation , on the style of the last twenty years of the last century (replicated enlarged in the first twenty years of the 2000s ). And the spectator hic et nunc , also an inhabitant of the Earth, inevitably finds himself equated with explant souls. In their own way, prompted to question themselves. Where is he? What and who are we waiting for? How to get out of it? Souls looking for (their) narration. Of a new story, following our Posthistory.
I am (we are) here. Migrants without (more) Earth, out of joint , unemployed, on the margins, blocked creatures, largely re-structured by new diktats, inconceivable and inconceivable fascisms. Guilty innocents, larvae without roofs, rights or identities, non-fiction beings catapulted onto a set, in the “completely different life” of the film itself, which spontaneously slips, de-localizing itself, towards the Big Brother. The television one (the forced sharing of the non-place) and that of Orwell (the Foucauldian all-seeing eye-spy).
Of course, in Lack-Purgatory lapped by an imperceptible water, by an Angel in them (in us), yet unnaturally harnessed by useless life jackets. They should protect: instead they brake, bend, crush, mortify. Make it missing. It is really time to get rid of it. Then, take off, and fly. Like an Angel.
Leonardo Persia, Rapporto Confidenziale