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Elisabeth Vogler Roaring 20s Review

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Roaring 20’s | 2021 Tribeca Film Festival Review

Roaring 20’s | 2021 Tribeca Film Festival Review

Walking & Talking: Vogler Captures the Bustling & Bebopping of Distinctive Parisian Summer

Decades from now, the cinematic impact of projects conceived of and filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting effects of quarantine will likely exist as an uncomfortable, arguably necessary time-capsule. Both as documentation of unprecedented global impact as well as exemplifications of creativity and resiliency despite formidable setbacks, we’ve already seen a myriad of productions reflecting the parameters of life during forced confinement. An expertly choreographed, free flowing narrative of 24 different characters perambulating in Paris shortly after the end of lockdown, Elisabeth Vogler’s Roaring 20’s is a single shot exercise which utilizes the anxious energy of a tentative return to socialization as well as the immortal vibrancy of Paris.

Vogler commenced filming the project a day after lockdown ended in France, concocting one dizzying, unbroken ninety-minute shot. A casual observer might mistake the project for any number of loquacious Gallic offerings, where conversation about amour fou and enigmatic possibilities abound. Only peripherally does the film bring us to inevitable moments visualizing the realities of life post-quarantine, where facial coverings and social distancing are still required as a pandemic continues to unfurl. But hope, wonder, and levity grace these conversations, from discussions of race to a lonely, potentially lost bride, wandering the sun lit streets. Vogler turns to prophecy and mystery with a fortune teller and brings us to the precipice of her film’s sentiment, where a century only really begins in its twentieth year, and much like a hundred years ago, where troubling darkness dissipated in time for one of the most lauded, freewheeling periods of world history.

There have been a number of high profile ‘single shot’ film exercises, although usually staged as either comprehensive linear narratives which parallel or juxtapose a number of characters. More like a free form poem reflecting various sentiments, Vogler earns comparisons to something like Linklater’s early indie classic Slacker (1990), but chances upon a sense of melancholic universality. Sure, this is one particularly defined snippet of a Parisian summer day, but its denizens are navigating immediately familiar anxieties. Still, Vogler, serving as her own cinematographer, assembles a wonderfully fluid series of segues, entering lively conversations which, for the most part, focus on people in hopeful commiseration.

One exception is the opening segment featuring a frazzled Alice de Lencquesaing (having appeared in films by Guillaume Nicloux and Olivier Assayas she’s arguably the most recognizable face in a large cast of newcomers), who we revisit briefly to close the film’s ambling loop. Vogler co-wrote with three other scribes (Noemie Schmidt, Joris Avodo, Francois Mark), all who are also part of the ensemble cast, assisting the film’s ability to morph from a heady variety of interesting lives and characters.

Reviewed on June 12 at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. Feature Narrative. 90 Mins.

★★★½/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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