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Shot a few years ago in Normandy and shown at a few small film festivals back in the Before Times of 2019, this intimate and yet deliciously cerebral romance perfectly suits the lockdown mood of 2020. There are effectively only two, socially distant characters (if you don’t count the chap in golfing kit who passes fleetingly through silently towards the end).
English northerner Maggie (Cara Theobold, from Downton Abbey, Last Tango in Halifax and Call the Midwife) is a young estate agent way too smart for the job. She has been assigned to show posh-spoken location scout Bernard (Game of Thrones alumnus Gethin Anthony) around an empty chateau. As they amble through the rooms and grounds, she explains to him how this was where Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle conceived his sui generis book Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (a real thing indeed) in the 1680s – a scientific-philosophical musing on the heliocentric model of the universe that’s constructed as a series of conversations between a young marquise (much like Maggie), and Fontenelle himself, who shares a first name with our hero.
As you would expect of a film about a book about multiple worlds, there’s some spiralling back and restarting of the story from different perspectives with key details changed, suggesting the fragile, random contingency of emotional entanglements, or maybe just because it can. It is as meta as a sentient ouroboros on a psychiatrist’s couch reviewing its own self-inflicted trauma, but also flirty, sweet and sort of breezy with melancholy bass notes.
There are a hundred touchstones that could be invoked to suggest what it’s like: a Peter Greenaway script directed by Eric Rohmer, say, or a real-time Before Sunrise concept channelled through Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Blind Chance/Sliding Doors parallel-world fiction, with a sugar dusting of Eugène Green highbrow whimsy and Charlie Kaufmanesque anxiety disorder. But fundamentally, this confident feature debut by British-Greek director Oliver Krimpas, elegantly written by Jonathan Kiefer, is unique, its own special, weird thing that leaves a long, pleasant, earthy aftertaste, like vintage calvados.
• Around the Sun is available on digital platforms from 4 August.
Source: The Guardian
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