By David Dent
Luz is a genuine four to the floor melon twister. It’s a film that works hard to make you work hard to work out what’s happening and yet you get the feeling that the director, Tilman Singer, is happy for the viewer to bring their own interpretation to the party.
The movie opens with a boyish woman (the Luz of the title) standing in a room – later identified as a sort of police station – having purchased a drink from a vending machine. She mutters some words to the disinterested clerk on duty; we later we learn that she is a cab driver who has been involved in an accident, and these words, like many in the film, will be repeated in different situations, echoing the use of language in Alain Resnais’ 1961 movie Last Year at Marienbad.
In the next scene, two characters are making conversation in a bar. She – Nora (who either has been or will be a passenger in Luz’s cab and also involved in the accident) – is drunk and he – Dr Rossini – is a psychotherapist who is asked to offer his thoughts on Nora’s events of meeting a friend. Some strange transference occurs between the two which, like everything else in the film, is never explained.
Rossini has been assigned to the police station to interview Luz and what happens for the bulk of the film is a strange account of her story, via hypnosis, with an interpreter assisting her recall, leading to a possibly satanic denouement.
Luz is a film that demands repeat viewings but I’m not really sure that this will help an understanding of the plot, which feels a bit like doing a complex jigsaw puzzle without the benefit of an overall picture. It’s not an easy watch and the disconcerting disruption of the narrative – at times recalling Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio – is both confusing and enthralling.
I liked it a lot but I’m still not sure why; despite its rather baffling scenario its assuredly directed by Singer and surprisingly watchable.
Luz screened at the Soho Horror Film Festival earlier this month.