The blurb in the GFF programme on this film sounded exciting: “Two Russian ghosts embark on a surreal, dreamlike journey... to the end of the world”! How could anyone pass up this surreal journey with striking imagery and some comedy thrown in there, just in case a film with no living humans is just a bit too hard to handle? The premise of the story is the journey of two Russian ghosts as they try to find the doorway to the human world to become alive again. I say premise, singular, because it’s the only one. We get no other background information, nothing to give the story weight. It all feels a little bit one-dimensional.
The story does however take off and the characters of the two ghosts develop quite well thoughout the film as they hike though beautiful scenery, meeting strange characters (a singing hippie, some deer, a creature from the underworld, a wise owl ...) and finding weird objects (a tree that screens videos from the 80’s, a rock that plays music, deer antlers sans deer...). Expecting humour in a film so obscure is usually too much to ask but Finisterrae delivers. Although crude at times it adds humanity to the characters and gives layers to the film without revealing too much, keeping the surreal and weird tag firmly attached.
Although the film utilises its small budget relatively well most of the time, using some great camera tricks for difficult scenes, it is spoiled when you realise the beautiful mountain scenery in front of you is actually a painting-a fact clearly established through a stationary waterfall shot. The visuals in general were somewhat disappointing, perhaps not but because of any choice or failure by the filmmaker: the picture was blurry, had a dead pixel and was being played from a DVD projected to ten times the size it should never be. If care and effort had been put in it to the projection it may have been a stunning film to watch on the big screen as the sweeping landscape was the main attraction throughout the picture. I wouldn’t have expected any less from Eduard Grau, the cinematographer responsible for A Single Man, but this was quite disappointing.
Finistarrae was not all unpleasant although a little too long, at times feeling a bit drawn out, with scenes fitted in seemingly because they may be pretty to look at (or at least would have been if projected properly) rather than to advance the story or any point. This distracted from the narrative a little too much to ignore. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re especially into this kind of thing, but at least the film gave us a lot to chat about afterwards - which is not at all a bad thing.