TIFF 2015 Review: Song of Songs
An excellent example of pure cinema, Song of Songs by Eva Neymann is incredibly well-intentioned, a gripping depiction of the shtetl in the early 1900’s framed within a romance between two young people.
However, the narrative is very difficult to grasp, and the film very strongly resemebles Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, in that the images are the real star of the show, but a whisper of development would have been a more than welcome addendum to this tale, which somehow seems to overstay its welcome even after less than eighty minutes.
The main problem with Song of Songs is the character of the Rabbi, who seems to be wearing some sort of artificial stomach and just feels too much like caricature. In contrast, the two young leads deliver fine performances, but they simply feel like they do not belong in a movie striving for realism. While it is quite incredible that the film can transform an audience back in time, it is a trip that we may not even want to take.
Ultimately, the true test of enjoyment and understanding of Song of Songs is the commitment that an audience member is willing to commit to mise en scene triumphing over even the most basic of narratives. It is a beautiful song, but this structure may not make it worth hearing.