By way of numerous visible languages and free items of storytelling, Bertrand Bonello’s pandemic-themed image Coma (2022) deploys all forces of experimentalism. It’s not a simple movie to digest, but it’d discover its cult following amongst followers of unbiased cinema.
French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello cast a reputation for himself again in 2011, across the time when the critically acclaimed Home of Tolerance (2011) was launched. Film competition goers may know lots extra of his works – the iconoclastic Nocturama (2016) a couple of bombing in Paris, in addition to the style melange of Zombi Baby (2019) that we’ve included in our high films of 2019 record. Bonello’s model usually displays the filmmaker’s scattered inspirations, and the most recent title within the director’s file, Coma (2022), may as nicely be his most unstructured and free-solo work thus far.
Produced through the pandemic, Coma (2022) reunites Bonello with Louise Labeque (star of Zombi Baby (2019) and daughter of the filmmaker), who performs a younger lady caught in a room through the lockdown. Days mix right into a shapeless pulp, full of episodes of a way of life vlog of charismatic content material creator Patricia Coma, hours of enjoying a reminiscence coaching recreation, or imagining a cleaning soap opera. When the solar units, the lady enters a mysterious realm of desires – often known as the Free Zone – by which she seems to be a para-medium of types, assembly numerous people – each useless and alive. Venturing into Free Zone collapses the wall dividing what’s actual and what’s not.
Coma (2022) is an expressionist examination of solitude and alienation, interpreted by way of a number of audiovisual types and narrative ideas. Bonello gracefully sways between genres and types to elicit the identical diploma of lethargy that the protagonist experiences. It’s her personal world of desires and creativeness working wild, but in addition a mashup of all the things that she’s subconsciously injected by the exterior events – equivalent to Patricia Coma. Her thoughts’s a sponge that welcomes any sort of trash that may fill the holes that reveal spots of the world exterior – a chilly and unwelcoming world.
On account of this mashup, there’s a little bit of all the things. When the lady stares at a dollhouse and begins to plot a fancy drama, Bonello combines a sketched animation with stop-motion, including occasional bursts of chuckle observe as a nod to conventional sitcoms. Because the dolls, voiced by, amongst others, Gaspard Ulliel, burble on about some petty dramas, their dialogues start to commingle with what has been not too long ago talked about in Coma’s vlogs. Nothing is decidedly on both of the perimeters of existence, and Bonello deliberately lets these ideas leak and spill into one another. That’s clearly the director’s criticism of the mass tradition, which is so brazenly based mostly on recycled concepts that stream between mediums.
After we enter the nightmarish realm of Free Zone, all the things turns grainy and darkish, with a first-person perspective that provides to the creepiness of strolling within the forest with the protagonist, as she’s stalked by mute figures impressed by the Slenderman tales. Visuals-wise, Coma (2022) by no means ceases to shock, regardless of its minute finances. Every kind and technique deployed provides to the thought of a dreamy world the place time now not exists.
When the protagonist places down the thoughts recreation – a mind-numbing time killer – she tunes into the world of Patricia Coma. The movie sneaks surrealism very neatly, primarily by way of the movies that seize transient moments when Coma breaks by way of the display screen and instantly impacts the protagonist’s life. The vlogger talks about just about all the things – the that means of life, in addition to new kitchen home equipment. Given such a variety of matters, Julia Faure, who performs Patricia, turns into a unusually haunting presence. Faure makes one of the best use of her on-screen appeal to make Coma get below your pores and skin because of her authoritative posture, so widespread amongst self-proclaimed coaches and on-line specialists with doubtful backgrounds. She received’t let go till you’ve consumed all her movies, bought the foolish reminiscence recreation she sells, and have become her zombie ant – identical to the primary character of Coma (2022).
Not like most pandemic-themed movies, the anchor of Bonello’s story doesn’t replicate on the fears of isolation however fairly the mundanity of being locked inside 4 partitions. The protagonist isn’t afraid of getting sick in any respect, and she or he’s extra fed up with the state of the world, misplaced and disconnected emotionally, to the purpose the place her personal creativeness creates a extra participating actuality to reside in. Due to this fact, escaping into the locations and tales born in her head appears to be a coping mechanism, a technique to deal with all of the grand issues thrown at a person – the existence of free will or what occurs to us after we die. That’s additionally bolstered by the omnipresent Patricia Coma, who appears caught within the protagonist’s thoughts like a parasite.
On the similar time, the French filmmaker subliminally signifies that the pandemic impacts the lady’s thoughts, inflicting it to journey to generally odd, generally worryingly disturbing areas. An instance of the latter is a fascination with serial killers that the lady shares together with her friends, as she discusses numerous homicide tales with blushed faces. Throughout a single on-line dialogue happens an occasion that deceits the viewers, tricking us into questioning what’s actual and what’s within the confused head of the protagonist.
As soon as once more, Bonello blurs the road, leaving us empty-handed.
Whereas I’m at it, Labeque’s presence feels decreased primarily to a mere idea. She’s a sketch of a personality that exists to be a guinea pig that the director patiently research. No element about her life is ever revealed, therefore, she not often turns into greater than a studied object. That’s very limiting to Labeque herself, whose sulky eyes and fixed jaded look rapidly put on off. Since Coma (2022) adheres to the ideas of a personality examine, our reference to the protagonist is significantly jeopardized.
Maybe too esoteric for many tastes, Coma (2022) will seemingly drown within the sea of content material. And which may be, as nicely, the pure cycle of lifetime of an arthouse reply to a selected occasion. In some other circumstances, Coma (2022) wouldn’t get made. There’s little doubt that the movie constitutes one of many extra obscure initiatives that sort out the various faces of the pandemic. However when stripped of its timeline setting, Bonello’s little film is simply too all-over-the-place to stay longer. Like most pandemic-themed movies, this one additionally proves the speculation that regardless of the dimensions of the tragedy, it’s both too early or too late to make a movie that captures the conflicting feelings tied to the COVID-19 period.