If you’ve seen Roy Andersson’s other films, then you’ve somewhat seen this one. The same static camerawork, the same incredibly staged picturesque set-ups, the same agonising depression and drudgery of everyday life in this nondescript European city – just like in Songs from the Second Floor, You the Living, and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. If you enjoyed those films, you may like this one, though there’s seemingly little new to grasp from this director’s specific oeuvre.
There’s just about no true story to speak of. There’s an assortment of everyday happenings in life, most of which are depressing and despairing, though a few more optimistic and joyful skits are included. An unknown female narrator comments on each one plainly, as if she were God herself acting somewhat perplexed at her own creation.
There are only two recurring characters, though their arcs are barely developed at all. It would have been preferable for them to be developed further so they could anchor this episodic film just a bit, or not have them included at all. All of the glimpses we see of the characters are without beginnings or ends, only the middles.
If it weren’t for the picturesque beauty of this film, it’d be hard to sink your teeth into, as each tableaux seems as disconnected as the last. The first and opening scenes have some sort of motif in its imagery, but there’s little else threading them throughout this film. But the film is so incredibly put together, in Roy Andersson’s unique manner, it’s a sight to behold. There’s nothing quite as grand as what was see in his last film A Pigeon…, but this is still a tremendous cinematic act whose technical craft puts other contemporary films to shame.
He may be reiterating his style and his themes, but there’s no one else like Roy Andersson and his films. Even one like About Endlessness feels in some sort of way too precious and too idiosyncratic to exist, with the expansiveness of its imagery and its uncomfortable mix of despair and humour.