Dir. Lisandro Alonso. Argentina. 2008.

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I remember when I went to the London Film Festival in 2009, and there was a lot of talk about a small film from Argentina called Liverpool.  I remember being a little struck by the title seeing as it is the hometown of my mother and wanting to see it, yet being unable to.

I always remember the title and now thanks to Second Run DVD, (who specialise in auteur cinema from third world countries and directors who fail to get home entertainment release) Lisandro Alonso's fourth feature film is gaining a DVD release in the UK having failed to garner a distributor in this country.

In the same vein of his previous work, it follows a lonely soul on a journey of discovery.  In this case, a sailor, Farrel, leaves his ship and begins a lengthy journey to wintry Tierra del Fuego’s interior, to an isolated village and family that he hasn’t seen in years. We gradually piece together his relationship with the people and community he finds there on a journey that looks familiar to him. From the opening sequences on Farrel’s ship, to the spectacular harshness of his destination, Alonso is meticulous in mapping the sights and sounds of the landscape and Farrel’s personal journey into the past.

Alonso's influences of film are far reaching from that of fellow Argentinian and South American luminaries to that of the mythology of American cinema and the cowboy in the Westerns. 

Alonso can be noted as nothing but courageous in his narrative storytelling, in a film where you are asked to invest a lot of time with one character Alonso does this amazingly brash about turn in the story as our focus must switch to someone else.  As the previous character exits, it reminded me of Alan Ladd as Shane in the synonymous film who walks off into the sunset, seemingly never to return - the mythology and convention of the western can be seen in the small town, the wanderer as a lonesome figure and the journey as a rite of passage and possible redemption (as with John Wayne in The Searchers).

Whilst it is a trying experience at times due to the facet of slow cinema in which this piece of cinema can sit next to the work Bela Tarr; it is nonetheless a rewarding watch should you stick with it.

The DVD is presented in a brand new director-approved anamorphic digital transfer and also includes Untitled (Letter for Serra) / Sin título (Carta para Serra) – a new short film by
Lisandro Alonso, available for the first time anywhere on DVD.

The work of Lisandro Alonso is part of Slow Cinema Weekend as part of the AV Festival in Newcastle, Liverpool is screening on Sunday 11th March 2012.

Liverpool is released on DVD from Second Run for £12.99 and is 82 minutes long with Spanish subtitles.

Jamie Garwood

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