My final day at EIFF and though my eyes are fried and my brain packed with a thousand images, I check out The Chambermaid Lynn. It’s a stylish film by writer/director Ingo Haeb, the German suburban setting suffused in lilacs, pale greens and blues in contrast to the rivers-run-deep emotions and desires of its eponymous heroine.
Early cuts to a therapy session let us know something has happened in Lynn’s past, some reaction, some inability to deal with the world. Now she channels her need for control and order into her job as a chambermaid where her OCD cleaning habits make her the best in the business.
But Lynn is a little too into her work – trying on guests' clothes and listening to their conversations by hiding under their beds, pressed against the spotlessly clean floors she has vacuumed herself. She is living through others, whilst getting a thrill from her illicit behavior.
Enclosed in the shallow space, especially when a guest lies down on the cheap mattress, there is always the suggestion of S&M, and when Lynn gets the chance to observe some rather more juicy goings on from her hiding place it unlocks a need in her that is the key to emotional release.
Vicky Krieps is so watchable as Lynn, her face has the serenity and stillness of a Renaissance portrait, and the relationships, the key sexual one and the slow easing of her relationship with her mother are beautifully observed. An affecting score by Jakob Ilja adds to the rather poetic nature and more surreal moments of Haeb’s vision, whilst the scenes in the hotel are wryly funny with a darker palette.
Individuals are seen only via their feet: sexy high heels, old men’s varicose-veined legs and the dancing ones of an older lady with bunions. Whilst Lynn’s own long legs sticking out from underneath a bed suggest a budget-hotel Bourdin, though the vision is no less pleasing for that.
Having seen some wonderfully imaginative features over the course of my time here, I possibly stepped a whimsy too far with my next viewing, Liza, the Fox-Fairy.
Again focusing on a lonely woman – I seem drawn to them this week – the debut of Hungarian director, Károly Ujj Mészáros is very much a fairytale.
Liza is a nurse in fictional ‘Csudapest’ in the seventies, the era beautifully and amusingly captured by DoP Péter Szatmári. Desperate for love, she has been caring for Marta, an elderly Japanese lady, for twelve years and the two listen obsessively to the pop songs of deceased Japanese heartthrob Tomy Tani. What’s more, Liza can see Tomy’s ghost; in fact he’s her only friend.
But despite his charming exterior, Tomy is rather more sinister than he seems, turning her into a fox-fairy, an alluring demon from Japanese mythology destined to kill all the men who fall in love with her. Needless to say, things stay true to the fairytale formula in what is a charming but flimsy feature.
Finally, having just heard it had been given the award for Best Short Film at the festival, I watched Scrapbook, a curious short directed by Canadian filmmaker Mike Hoolboom made up entirely of footage shot by Jeffrey Paull, an ‘audio visual healer’ and photographer in the Broadview Developmental Center in Ohio in 1967.
The footage was shown to Donna Washington, an autistic lady who was resident at the home as a child for twelve years.
Her words, spoken by an actor, are her response to seeing the footage for the first time in almost fifty years and are full of moving ideas about self, image and how we locate ourselves in the world.
She talks about emotions, how they filled her with fear as a child, and her struggle to identify herself within the world: ‘The colour of the drapes could last the rest of my life – do you understand? I’m an orange drape.’
The footage is intriguing, the children looking as lost as Donna’s words suggest, though not without hope. It’s a time capsule, a strange slice of the past. But the use of a continuous video-installation-style soundtrack is intrusive and dislocates us from what we’re seeing, which was frustrating as surely no further barriers are needed? The young faces are already separated from the viewer by difference, their struggle to communicate, but most of all by time.
The 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival ends today.