Toronto Film Review: ‘The Seen and Unseen’

Variety | 9/22/2017 | Staff
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Steeped in theatrics, fantasy and psychology, “The Seen and Unseen” is haunting in its evocation of the supernatural communion between twin siblings, as Indonesian writer-director Kamila Andini interprets the minds of children facing pain and loss through the timeless language of Baliness arts and spirituality. With its drifting rhythm and peculiar aesthetics, this tale of young characters was made with adult audiences in mind and should be a choice item for highbrow festivals.

Andini’s much-lauded debut “The Mirror Never Lies” also centered on a teenage girl coming to terms with death. After her father’s death, the young protagonist of that film sought answers in nature and in her imagination, before puberty forced her to seek guidance from outsiders. Andini’s second feature goes in the opposite direction, retreating into the child’s private world to bask in its secrets. The effect is hypnotic as the film unfolds in measured and highly stylized movements, but not as widely accessible as her earlier work (which also includes mid-length family drama “Following Diana”).

Echo - Children - Drama - Love - Eggs

Perhaps in a playful echo of the heartwarming children’s drama “Of Love and Eggs” directed by Andini’s father Garin Nugroho, eggs and birds serve as motifs that expand and mingle in mysterious ways. The first images are of young Tantri (Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih) visiting her brother Tantra (Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena) in hospital. As she hovers in the doorway sensing the seriousness of his condition, her hand crushes the raw egg in its grasp, causing the yolk to drip onto the floor with ominous impact.

From there, the film flashes back to the siblings’ happier days frolicking in the fields back home. Tantra loves to steal eggs offered at shrines for his sister to cook. She hates the yolk, whereas he leaves the whites on the plate. This is just one sign...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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