Writer|Director: Tobias Nölle
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tilde von Overbeck, Kamil Krejci, Yufei Li
91min | Drama | Switzerland
Tobias Nölle’s second feature is a coldly rendered exploration of loneliness and isolation made all the more so by its impressive visual style.
ALOYS follows the unusual day to day activities of the eponymous central character, a soi-disant private investigator in an unnamed Swiss town. As the film opens, this hard-edged loner is mourning the death of his father, indicated by graphic images of his coffin and wake. Clearly distraught, Aloys has no interest in sharing his grief, preferring to retreat to his spartanly decorated flat to reflect and seemingly gloat on the footage recorded on his video cameo during the day’s investigations. This suggests he may even be a voyeur, such is his hostility towards the outside world and his clandestine satisfaction derived from these private scenes behind closed doors. Perusing footage of his father fills Aloys with genuine nostalgia suggestive of a close relationship based on filial adoration and respect. Noelle eschews dialogue for the most part, telling his tale visually, building a portrait of a deeply disturbed individual painfully aloof to the world; locked in the past; defensive and controlling of the present; fearful of the future; cloyingly locked in an oppressively dank rural location, oppressed by a ’70s-style palette of insipid aqua and beige.
Clicking backwards and forwards like his dated camcorder, things become increasingly dreamlike and fetishist as yellow tights are added to the motifs of dampness, condensation and foggy morning mists, almost as if Aloys is under the spell of a sickening succubus, he falls mysteriously asleep in a single decker bus where his camera equipment is stolen, including his footage. Phone calls from an anonymous female confound and anger him. He informs ‘the authorities’. They have to deal with it. Whether the thief responsible is the woman he filmed through a keyhole – or a fantasy figure – is unclear. Engulfed by fear and irritation, he retreats again. The stranger on the end of the line then introduces Aloys to the ‘telephone walk’, a method used by analysts in the therapy of reclusive types, whereby they are counselled by telephone in a less visually confrontational exercise in rehabilitation. This episode marks a shift in the tonal vibe from melancholy drama to upbeat fantasy, exploring the human need to reach out and connect intimately with like-minded souls. Sometimes difficult to engage with, ALOYS is a challenging film but visually very rewarding in its inventiveness and certainly one to watch out for in the upcoming season of arthouse releases. MT
REVIEWED AT BERLINALE 11-21 FEBRUARY 2016 | NOW ON BLURAY COURTESY OF EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA