Starring: Peter Lorentzon, Mariha Aberg, Jena Malone
Director: Lukas Moodysson
The film: Watching Container, it's hard to imagine that its maker was hailed as Ingmar Bergman's heir apparent as recently as five years ago. Lukas Moodysson's new outing involves neither the slightest hint of a narrative nor even dialogue and synch-sound.
The film centres around an anonymous, portly white man (Peter Lorentzon), as he dresses in drag, dabbles with his German stamps and a copy of Hello!, walks into an orgy in a dank flat in Poland, and is seen through an apocalyptic wasteland in the eerie, deserted terrain of Chernobyl. Appearing sporadically is a young, slim Asian woman (Mariha Aberg) sometimes dressed as a dominatrix and sometimes nursing the listless man's daily needs.
Above all this is a running, barely audible, voiceover (provided by US actress Jena Malone) whose words bear no apparent direct relation to the visuals. The narration shifts between a shallow female celebrity's fickle reflection on her own fame (a thought about flying to Darfur to help bring peace to the region is followed swiftly by the memory of a leery cabbie ogling her through the rear mirror) and a gay man's self-loathing and his morbid fascination with 'celebrities, different ways of torture, God and nuclear catastrophes'.
Container would leave those seeking something akin to Moodysson's earlier works (Show Me Love, Together or Lilya-4-Ever) frustrated. That would be missing the point, however. Container is very much a piece of experimental cinema that harks back to the art films of Andy Warhol or Ken Jacobs, where the key to appreciating the film is in the viewer's ability to decipher the symbolism.
Container is at times haphazard and mischievous, but there's room for the imagination to run wild. Does Malone's narration represent the real voice of the man, a female essence 'contained' in and confined by a masculine body? Or is the melancholic reflection about the pains of fame a result of the man's obsession with celebrity glamour? And is Lorentzon and Aberg really the two physical manifestations of the same individual?
Still, Container is divisive and deliberately provocative - but it's undeniably interesting.
The extras: As if not content with playing the provocateur with the film, Moodysson - or at least, the company that funded his film and this DVD release - has come up with a small documentary titled Inside the Container Crypt, in which a psychoanalyst, a priest and a medium are summoned to give their own readings of Container and its accompanying installation. This bonus feature is as much a piece on its own as the film itself: to hear the trio's views are as intriguing as watching Container itself.
The only way they could do more i, perhaps, would be to rope in Slavoj Zizek to interpret Moodysson's urges.
The verdict: Entertaining this isn't, but Container does challenge the mind.