A Multilayered Choreography of a Passionate Relationship

in 67th Berlin International Film Festival

by Kerem Akca

Pendular feels like an erotic dance film from the 80s, but it is actually an ambitious love story about two contemporary artists. In her second feature film, Brazilian director Julia Murat creates another choreography, another lifestyle, another course of action. It turns into a wild, interactive, intellectual and modern film about sexual relationships.

Throughout the history of cinema we have seen many films about passionate sexual affairs. We can think of Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, Oshima’s In the Realm of Senses, Malle’s Damage, Winterbottom’s 9 Songs and so on. But Murat adds an original aesthetic choice to this formula as she aims to make modern relationships function almost like a pendular.

Modern art pieces have been the subject of aesthetic desire in the new millennium, with Duncan Roy’s influential AKA and Picture Of Dorian Gray. Murat borrows this technique and puts it inside a passionate sex life. Shot in cinemascope, Pendular is in a way a confession of bed chemistry. Female lead Raquel Karro is very ambitious, and is ready to deal with the wild and attentive choreography. We can see nude bodies and hear weird voices, most of it pure and portrayed in long shots. In the background Murat puts video games, modern dance, sculpture and also literature. Characters sometimes can read The Little Prince or play video games.

Pendular is a multidisciplinary film. It can also be interactive, artistic, intellectual and passionate altogether. Alienation is the main theme. But it is shown with an intense visual language. Therefore, the choice to tell the story in four chapters is clever. The third is ‘action’, the forth is ‘contraction’ and it ends with a very long conversation. So this choice is a game changer. The film is in a way a painting, dance performance, theater play or video game. That look is contrary to the 1980s clichéd Hollywood dance films. It’s better and more influential than Dirty Dancing, Flashdance and others. It creates a memorable lifestyle while experimenting. The dull colors used with a modern production design feel almost like a parchment with a sterile touch.

Pendular is an ambitious and influential film. If we think about failed films with a similar formula, like Aluizio Abranches’ A Fit of Rage (Um Copo de Colera), Matias Bize’s In Bed (En La Cama) and Micheal Rowe’s Leap Year (Ano Bisiesto) from Latin America, Pendular stands out as a real success. It almost feels like 9 Songs made with a ‘modern art aesthetic’ approach and put together with an ‘intellectual’ Dirty Dancing. It is a contemporary love film or a sensible art piece, which calls for many different interpretations.

Edited by Yael Shuv