The art of framing a still life demands deference to detail and atmosphere. And although he’s actually related to Visconti, Vermeer feels more genetically relevant to this second film from Uberto Pasolini (producer of The Full Monty) as he steps delicately, frame-by-frame, through the life of Mr. May (Marsan), a London council worker tasked with tracing the relatives of people who have died alone and, failing that, to arrange their solitary funerals.
Pasolini’s first film Machan followed a group of Sri Lankans who successfully applied for exit visas to Germany by pretending to be the national handball team. His eye for the humanely absurd is clothed here in the poetry of intimacy.
As May, Marsan personifies a dedication to honouring the fast-disappearing lives of his case files, picking over their modest possessions to get a feeling for their unsung interests and translating these pathetic accretions into moving obituaries. As the potential love interest Downton Abbey’s Froggatt adds a note of potential salvation. But it’s the directorial effort that’s truly redemptive. Echoing May’s own role as a re-creator of existence, Pasolini burnishes a life of unpromising bits and pieces – turning unravelled existence into a lustrous epigraph to loneliness.
Begin Again (Mr. May und das Flüstern der Ewigkeit) | Directed by Uberto Pasolini (UK, Italy 2013) with Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt. Starts September 4
Originally published in issue #130, September 2014.