Dir: Lukas Moodysson. Sweden. 2006. 74mins.
Wilfully obscure and defiantly strange, Lukas Moodysson'sblack-and-white film is as much visual art as cinema. Moodysson would havelittle patience with such subjective categories; but distributors are notoriouslysubjective, and few will touch a film that lacks even the narrative or shock ofMoodysson's previous departure from the mainstream, A Hole In The Heart.
One definition of art cinema is that it forces its audience to spendmore time trying to work out what's in the director's head than what's in thecharacter's heads. Container has us asking the "What the...'" every fewseconds. A large man with a baleful stare (Lorentzon) wanders throughjunk-strewn interiors and almost featureless post-nuclear wastelands, sometimeswearing a dress and a blonde wig, sometimes carrying a petite Asiatic woman(Aberg) on his back. Occasionally he might don a gas mask, or tape a plasticfoetus to his face. The Asiatic woman seems to minister as some sort of nurse.
Over the top of this we hear Jena Malone's monotone narration, ahigh-pitched, drugged-up ethereal whine. It includes lists of the fat man'spossessions, celebrity namechecks and meditations on death and religion.
We assume this is the fat man's voice, and it soon becomes clear that hesees himself as a woman trapped in a man's body. But then the voice says: "Myname is Jena Malone... I'm an American actress."
Occasionally the dreamlike images illustrate exactly what the narratoris saying, but more often voice and camera diverge.
There's something of Samuel Beckett's play Happy Days in how the voicekeeps trying, and failing, to construct a meaningful story: a narrative autismthat mirrors the apparent physical autism of the main character.
It's weird and unsettling, but also memorable. We never do work outwhat's going on in Moodysson's head, but we know enough to realise it's not aplace we'd want to live.
Jena Malone (voice)