There is a fundamental characteristic that converges in all the films made in the United States (or about the United States) that are projected this year in D’A. All of them offer portraits of doors inwards –that is, more or less intimate studies of characters– that, paradoxically, have much to say about our most immediate reality, the USA today, Western society and its most basic foundations.
Among them, there are three powerful female radiographs that curiously describe three life stages full of changes: Eighth Grade, Fourteen and Diane. In Eighth Grade, the first feature of that all-terrain called Bo Burnham (see for example his atypical stand-up show Make Happy), a teenager who goes completely unnoticed in her school and who does not fit into any type of majority group convention will live a period of identity self-exploration with which she will move away from the most hegemonic United States. In Fourteen, Dan Sallitt somehow redefines the mumblecore through a story that follows two lifelong friends for ten years, and beyond the psychological portrait of each of them and the deterioration of their relationship, stands a reflection as empathetic as bitterness of the disenchantment that affects youth approaching maturity without direction. And with Diane, Kent Jones delivers a moving film in which a woman who faces the last stage of her life, and who only lives to help others, begins to rethink everything. Heads up for the interpretation of Mary Kay Place (a comedy actress, who we had recently seen the role of Maria Bamford’s mother in the Lady Dynamite show), and the feminist and subtly anti-system message that permeates the entire film.
Changing register, two films travel to the USA of the past to try to understand the country of the present. In The Mountain, by Rick Alverson –one of the most radical and subversive filmmakers in American independent filmmaking–, the lobotomy and extreme psychological therapies that were beginning to be carried out in the 1950s open the door to a forceful reflection on government control and the sought-after passivity of society; terms that resonate more than ever in Trump’s USA. Alverson defines his film as anti-utopian, and utopias also go Los hermanos Sisters, the splendid western of Jacques Audiard, in which two of his characters aim to create a community of co-ownership and co-management in Dallas “where democracy and respect reign”, mission impossible in a violent society that was already beginning to walk towards the fiercest capitalism. This ferocity also speaks in What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?, with which the Italian Roberto Minervini continues to explore the most forgotten corners of the US. And he does it through his own brand of style, the hybrid between fiction and documentary. In this case, in the bosom of the black community in the south of the country, punished by police violence, with a collage of lives that, from the individual speaks up about collective action.
The cinema made in USA of the D’A is, therefore, a cinema from the inside out, a subtle protest which bets on the portrait in the first person to question what is unquestionable in our Western society.