Ice, ice maybe
Fiona (Fiona Gordon), closing the burger joint where she works, winds up locking herself, Brady-style, in an industrial freezer. When she’s released the next morning, she’s stunned to discover that her husband and two children never noticed her absence. Growing familial disappointments, fueled with a newfound obsession for everything icy, lead her to flee the suburbs—and her family.
Ending up in a quiet seaside town inhabited primarily by geriatrics, Fiona convinces—“seduces” doesn’t convey an appropriate level of awkwardness—local deaf-mute Leon (a lumbering Louis Lecouvreur) to ferry her north aboard his sailboat, her now desperate husband trailing close behind them. Fiona just wants to find an iceberg.
L’Iceberg’s default mode is bafflement. Desire, the thematic heart of the film, a Belgian/French production, is tucked away under layer after layer of precious idiosyncracies.
This is the first feature film by the writing-directing collective of Dominique Abel, Gordon and Bruno Romy, whose background in theater and, particularly, as circus performers is clearly evident in both the film’s concept and its realization. Every sequence is a set-piece. Each shot is composed and dressed like a life-size diorama, and filmed, invariably, straight-on at mid to long range. It’s hard to shake the feeling that you could be watching a Wes Anderson film, save for the absence of a baroque, early-’70s pop tune and one of the Brothers Wilson.
Put simply, this is a film you will either love or hate. The narrative is conveyed primarily through pantomime. Theatrical set construction, slapstick contrivances and the ironic use of back projection add to a feeling of arty self-consciousness. It sounds like a recipe for pretentious filmmaking, but L’Iceberg has more than few saving graces, the foremost being the gangly Gordon, who can simultaneously convey both manic energy and utter exhaustion.
L’Iceberg works absurdist schtick ad absurdum, but beneath the slapstick it’s a colorful, beautifully filmed piece of quiet, exasperated hilarity.