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Film Spotlight

directed by André Marques, Portugal, 10:00


MINIMUM SPEED NOT RESPECTED, directed by André Marques, takes the viewer on a journey through Europe invoking a sense of loneliness while, surprisingly, highlighting the innate connection between humans, even strangers. 


Introducing the film is a wide shot of a city under construction followed by shots of either different cities or different parts of a city – all at dusk or sunrise. Following this are shots of modes of transportation leading to a point-of-view shot of driving at night, which pulls the spectator in, taking them on a journey. At this point, there have been no characters introduced, thus creating a sense of a solo trip for the spectator. One cannot deny the allure of these shots— especially the point-of-view shots— but there is a sense of disconnect of someone always looking out at the world, traveling through it but not directly experiencing it..


The pattern changes with still shots of a town in foggy hills and a blurry image of distant hills. Words— as if those of a voiceless narrator— appear via subtitles with the instructions: “Listen up close.” Aside from the unseen driver of the point-of-view car shots, these words are the first indication of a specific character in the film. This surprising revelation grounds the preceding images not in the spectator’s imagined journey but rather in a mysterious, off-screen character’s subjectivity. At the conclusion of the scene, the subtitles reveal the words of a singing woman’s haunting voice: “and if I could see you in death, I’d die tomorrow.”


The next sequence is dominated by a long duration shot of an elderly person, struggling to walk with a forearm crutch, with cups that suggest they are a beggar on a busy street in an unknown city. The lyrics of the previous scene’s song echo in our minds as we see this person as a traveler might— with empathy but distance, care and curiosity. The camera follows the beggar, and therefore we must continue to watch the beggar even though they receive no attention from anyone else on the street. The off-screen and unheard narrator lingers in the back of the spectator’s mind, as do the questions left unanswered: Is this image meant to be familiar or foreign? Is this still part of the travel, or is this the return? The shot continues as the beggar moves painstakingly slowly, long enough for us to wonder if we’ve crossed the line between tourist and voyeur, and if anybody cares if we have. 


Another moment of stillness follows: a foggy soccer field, accompanied by music and subtitles, which are now more apparently, though not definitively, presenting heard and unheard lyrics of the music, by Scottish ambient folk musician Gareth Dickson.


As though reversing the first half of the film’s structure (if not its specific path), the next sequence returns us to the idea of travel, now centering on trains. Finally, at a crowded train station, a man stands as others stream past, evidently waiting for someone or something. Again, the moment’s familiarity collides against the careful attention the film pays to it, and we begin to wonder whether we are welcome to watch another private, lonely moment. This feeling melts away, though, when he hugs a woman who almost falls limp into him in the film’s final image. Loneliness and human connection have met in a dialectic that leaves us wondering: are we, the spectators following another’s journey, any less alone as a result of watching others in solitary, public moments? Or is the role of spectator, like that of tourist, one that is defined by distance?


- Elise Bear, BA Theatre and Performance ’24, Oklahoma City University

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