• The narrative is intentionally opaque and that must have dissuaded most critics but they missed out here—closest relative would be to Cronenberg’s underrated (and impenetrable to most Spider from 2002). But the visual aplomb is in the lineage of Antonioni and the formal creation strong as well
  • Abstract soft focus opening—great blocking of the mise-en-scene and photography throughout
  • Shoots the same alley over and over (formal rendering) as a cutaway or Ozu-like pillow shot
  • Soft-focus throughout like Antonioni’s Red Desert– getting into Hawke’s fractured psyche- he’s trapped, it’s a bit of an existential nightmare
  • Scott Thomas is very good here in her scenes— her apparently draped in deep red color
  • Two paths of the railroad tracks shot evenly—splitting the frame with a tree—a wonderful shot
  • The establishing shot or cutaways – just dazzling photography
  • The glasses Hawke wears are significant- shared with daughter and he mentions they “see the world the same way”
  • Same shot of the hallway like the alley—cutting again to the owl multiple times towards the finale—formal rendering
  • Smart casting have Ethan Hawke as the writer
  • There’s a shot on the ground (camera) in the grass—the frame is blocked like Von Sternberg with grass blades in the foreground
  • Focuses solely on Scott Thomas during the lovemaking
  • In bed we get the trademark Ingmar Bergman framing of the faces—Scott Thomas is in the foreground in soft focus
  • Spiral staircase elegant shot
  • Hawke shot through bars (and he’s literally in jail later)—there’s a spider in the web
  • Slipping out of reality- the scene where he yells in the street is great
  • Pawlikowski frequently cuts the frame in half with objects
  • Formal construction- we go back to the soft focus forest opening
  • Great shot of a column breaking up the frame with Hawke’s polish lover on one side and a man at the bar on the other- it’s gorgeous
  • 84 minutes which has become a trademark now of Pawlikowski
  • Like Red Desert or Spider it’s really a film about POV
  • Ebert was one of the few critics to like the film- in his review he called for a shot-by-shot analysis
  • Starts slower stylistically but it’s still formally set up very well- the film gets better visually as Hawke’s psyche become less and less sound
  • Lots in common with Antonioni’s L’Eclisse
  • The shot of Hawke’s head breaking up the frame with his lawyer on one side and the translator on the other—then goes the wrong way out of that meeting—shows he devolving
  • Pillow shots of tree, railing
  • Antonioni used these to show our inability to connect. Here it’s about his breaking from reality 
  • HR