Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

"Yesterday Was a Lie"

This was a 2008 independent film; Lut turned it up on Netflix instant watch and we decided to give it a look.

It's a strikingly beautiful film, shot in black and white and in the style of a 40's noir film. "In the style of a 40's noir film" bears further explanation. The props, costumes, sets, and tropes are very much 40s-style. Men wear suits and fedoras. They drive 40s-style and dial telephones with actual rotary dials. One of the characters is a torch singer at a lounge. Yet the film is emphatically not set in the 40s: the characters carry cellphones (which sound just like to old-fashioned mechanical phones when they ring), do internet searches, and the gender dynamic is modern, not period. To call it "anachronistic" feels wrong; it's not an accident but a deliberate choice, and one that mirrors that film's central theme, so I thought it worked well.

Other things work less well. The plot is thin, the characters underdeveloped, their motivations unclear, and the acting is uneven. (By "uneven", I mean not so much that some actors were better than others, but that the actors did a better job in certain scenes than in others). The use of symbols is overdone, but at times clever*. It is a clever film in some ways, but it comes across as ultimately more pretentious than smart.

For all that, I'm glad we watched it. It had an interesting central premise that was difficult to carry off at all, and to a certain degree it succeeded. So I'm impressed by that.

* OK, the use of Dali's "The Persistence of Memory"? That was a really good choice.

The central premise of "Yesterday Was a Lie" is: "Time is not linear; the human mind intervenes to organize things in order to convince itself that time is linear, but things do not actually happen one after another". The film follows the actions of three characters (or possibly just one or two, depending on how you interpret it) whose brains have stopped doing the "convince you that time is linear" thing.

This does not result in a "Memento"-style "scenes appear out of order". There's some rearranging of chronological order, yes, but what makes "Yesterday Was a Lie" neat is that there is, actually, no chronological order which makes sense. Scene C obviously happened after Scene A, Scene B obviously happened after scene A & C, and scene D clearly happens before B but after C. There's no way to make that work in a linear fashion.

And yet the film does hold together; it manages to preserve narrative structure despite having thrown chronology out the window. It doesn't do it well, exactly, but as with the proverbial dancing bear, the impressive thing is that it does it at all.

Overall, it's not a movie I can recommend unreservedly, but I think it's worth seeing. It's also quite short at 80 minutes long. (IMDB puts it at 87 minutes, but the last 7 are credits).
Tags: film

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