Updated: May 8, 2021
About Endlessness opens with an image of a pair of embracing lovers floating above a sea of gray clouds. In comparison with this moment of explicit fantasy, the rest of the movie is relatively mundane—albeit no less lyrical. Director Roy Andersson manages to discover beauty, magic, and poetry amidst the ordinary (a couple on a park bench watching a flock of geese fly over the city, a middle-aged man struggling to carry heavy bags of groceries up a steep hill), the absurd (a waiter at a fancy restaurant pouring wine until the glass overflows while his oblivious customer reads a newspaper, an alcoholic dentist storming out of his office when his timid patient refuses anesthetic), and the horrifying (a distraught father sobbing over the blood-soaked corpse of his slain daughter, a prisoner of war desperately pleading for mercy as he’s escorted to his execution).
Each of these loosely-connected vignettes is presented in a single static shot, immaculately framed and meticulously composed. Consequently, the film isn’t terribly exciting from a visual standpoint, but there’s an undeniable elegance in its minimalistic style; the languid, unhurried pace is almost hypnotically charming, while the palpable tone, mood, and atmosphere compensate for the lack of a coherent plot.
About Endlessness probably won’t appeal to viewers that prefer a more “traditional” narrative experience, but personally, I absolutely adored its unconventional structure and deceptively rich themes. I’ve been meaning to explore Andersson’s body of work for quite some time now, and this made for an excellent introduction.