Uku Ukai

Audrius Stonys

Lithuania 2006, 30 min.

Make-up is carefully being applied to a woman’s face by another woman. Death in disguise? Is this about death? Are we death in disguise? All of us? Or does the first scene of the film also infuse our thoughts with the idea of closeness and distance? The closeness of the old woman, the distance of the young. To death. And their distance to each other. And then, at the end of this chain of thought, the alarming realisation: their closeness to each other. The scene is long, but it has ended now.

Death is a condition and a moment. In silence. Life is a long-distance race. Surrounded by good advice and soft, noisy punchlines, “…let’s sit easily and close the eyes / take a deep breath in… / … and out / again a deep breath in /  …and out / listen to the noises around you / accept all the noises / be in harmony with the environment “ – he is running against time, against the direction of life, for his life. In every respect, someone quite unlike the woman being made up. But his scene follows close on the heels of hers. Because they basically think alike, they are both struggling for life, pleasure, beauty. Audrius Stonys wants his films to gather lonely people who think alike into groups. This is his method of making films. And he has used it to make this one. The long-distance runner runs into the picture, through the picture, and throughout the film. Against time.

Sleep is the living sister of death. Just before the woman in the third scene falls asleep (and also at that moment), her thoughts resemble the runner’s in the second. She surrenders to sleep as day to night, life to death. Confident of the reappearance. Later on, awake again, she is jogging in her living room. The bare feet against the carpet. The scene emphasises tactility, repetition, reality. In another scene, she is standing in front of the mirror, carefully applying night cream to her face. Revitalising it after removing her make-up. Working against time.

I guess the film is unavoidable, and we observe its relentless quest: to pursue the themes throughout the filmmaking. Like all auteurs, Stonys apparently works from film to film as if crafting a single work. In his lyrical, documentary meditations, the familiar motifs recur. His perception of time, of beauty and – starting with the etude “Alone” – he tests his art’s ability to endure in genres and idioms. To keep it from dying an early death, like nostalgia or aestheticism. Moralism or entertainment. Mainstreaming or consumerism. Which is why it requires such an effort for us to watch it. As Tarkovskij recalls what Goethe wrote, ”Reading a book is just as difficult as writing it!”. In other words, much remains to be done before we can truly claim to have watched Stonys’ film.

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