Time Out says
Thu Dec 8 2005
Whether or not you have a taste for the films of German director Fred Kelemen (Fate, Nightfall) may have a lot to do with your general outlook on life (reading lots of Camus and Schopenhauer these days?). In his latest one-note study of existential torpor, Kelemen introduces us to dour Matiss Zelcs (Dombrovskis), a Latvian everyman who toils in the bleak national archives in Riga. Walking along a bridge one night, Matiss strolls past an attractive blond woman about to leap to her death. Minutes later, hearing a splash and a cry for help, he quietly phones the police. Tortured either by guilt or a morbid obsession, Matiss eventually attempts to find out who the luckless woman was and why she wanted to end her life.
Slow-moving and witless, Krisana is the kind of empty exercise in dark-night-of-the-soul exorcism that gives art-house cinema a bad name. Although Kelemen's grainy B&W photography certainly suits the nocturnal atmosphere and stark story line, the camera's relentless pursuit of Matiss feels claustrophobic, and the hero's vodka-swilling lucubrations simply enervate. Only twice does Kelemen yield screen time to others: once, for a despairing speech a haggard police inspector (Roga) offers on how "man has lost himself," and again, at a bar with the woman's lover, Alexej (Korobov), who Matiss finds through casual sleuthing and then drunkenly guilt-trips. Imagine an Aki Kaurismaki film without an ounce of black humor. Sound fun? (Opens Fri; Anthology.)