Playing Emil Forester, a filmmaker who’s so down on his luck that he accepts an invitation to a film festival staged in the autocratically ruled Caucasian Republic of Karastan, Matthew Macfadyen makes the most of a deliberately low-budget mockumentary-like excursion into tropes of artistic obscurity and obfuscation. As he bumbles through a script happily ensconced in the absurd, Emil attempts to raise enthusiasm for his oeuvre at screenings of his two films marked by Kafkaesque dislocation, with barely adolescent kids rapt at the sight of determined shagging. Then the real reason for his invitation comes to light: would he like to make a film on the life of the medieval figure regarded as Karastan’s founding father? Finally, a chance to pay his cleaner back home and the dog food to which his pet feels entitled. Emil accepts and soon finds himself lost in the translation of culture and language, with not-so-hidden agendas, elusive subjects, mysterious love interests, reluctant stars, ambiguous backers and a preference for endings that feature thoughtful horses staring into the camera. Itself thoughtful and funny, Hopkins’ latest feature comes with a price-tag of deliberate loose ends, undermining the tidy-all school of artistry with the authenticity of creative doubt.
Lost in Karastan (Welcome to Karastan) | Directed by Ben Hopkins (UK 2015) with MyAnna Buring, Matthew Macfadyen. Starts May 21