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PALIĆ 2021

Critique : Parquet

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- Le scénariste et réalisateur russe aguerri Aleksandr Mindadze réunit la crème de la crème des acteurs est-européens pour former un triangle amoureux hautement métaphorique

Critique : Parquet

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Widely known as a long-term scriptwriting collaborator of the Soviet auteur Vadim Abdrashitov, Aleksandr Mindadze in post-Soviet times has also well written for Alexei Uchitel and directed several films, with Parquet [+lire aussi :
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being his fourth and his latest one. The film premiered within the 2020 Tallinn Black Night Film Festival and is now selected in the Parallels and Encounters program of the European Film Festival Palić.

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Self-named after a parrot and according to a sarcastically bitter anecdote, with an enormous penis that, however, only gets erect while dancing, Parquet’s protagonist called Cockatoo is a man in a retirement crisis. He needs to prove to himself that he can dance tango à trois one more time — with his former wife Valencia and old-time mistress Elisabeth — so as to feel that passion and potency (both artistic and erotic) have not disappeared from his life for good. The supreme conflict of this somewhat old-fashioned threesome chamber drama revolves around Cockatoo's innermost desire, which will, of course, remain unsatisfied.

The three characters meet in the same dance club they conquered 25 years ago when they introduced the tango in a triangle. The place is full of energetic youngsters now, unaware of the trio’s fame, which makes them feel awkwardly outdated. Hence, they prefer to lock themselves into a hotel room in order to rehearse, remember, embrace physically and fight verbally, in attempts to prepare for their last performance. But no one is ready for it and the trio will spend uncountable unproductive hours in search of a disappeared connection. The leading sensation throughout this segment is Cockatoo’s fear that not only youth but life has inevitably passed him by, while he irreversibly failed to leave a trace behind. 

As the title of the film suggests, Parquet’s mise-en-scène and overall atmosphere are intentionally theatrical: the characters inhabit the enclosed claustrophobic environment of a ballroom, a hotel, a restaurant – only artificial, provisional spaces. The flirtatious dialogue between the three is flamboyant and pretentious at times, while revealing fatigue and despair under the surface. And frankly speaking, the spectator’s gaze and attention get tired of the endless, ambiguous, pseudo-Chekhovian dialogue where, contrary to Chekhovian norms, not every element appears to be necessary. In this case, the metaphoric ending that proves that death cannot dance nor wait comes rather as a relief. 

With Parquet relying on the structure of a relationship ensemble, its valuable aspect probably lies in its cast. Elisabeth, the playful and charming yet hysterical mistress, is frenetically performed by Polish actress Agata Kulesza, notable in Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida [+lire aussi :
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interview : Pawel Pawlikowski
interview : Pawel Pawlikowski
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and Cold War [+lire aussi :
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Q&A : Pawel Pawlikowski
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; Russian actress Evgenia Dodina, internationally recognised for her roles in One Week and a Day [+lire aussi :
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and In Times of Fading Light [+lire aussi :
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, plays the seemingly reconciled ex-wife Valencia. Even Elisabeth’s ex-lover Bulat, who appears briefly, is delegated to key Estonian actor Taavi Eeelmaa, a regular in Veiko Õunpuu’s films, among which Autumn Ball [+lire aussi :
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and The Temptation of St. Tony [+lire aussi :
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. The neurotic Cockatoo, meanwhile, is masterfully performed by popular Polish actor Andrzej Chyra (Beyond Words [+lire aussi :
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interview : Urszula Antoniak
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, Ether [+lire aussi :
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) who intuitively expresses the character’s existential fright of old age and death. 

Parquet was produced by Aleksandr Mindadze himself and Liza Antonova, representing Russia’s Passenger Film Studio, in a co-production with the UK’s REASON8 Films and Poland’s Impact Film.

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(Traduit de l'anglais)

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