The Berlinale in its terminal phase, with a procession of end-of-life characters, dead people and ghosts


As the 74th edition of the Berlinale draws to a close – the winners are scheduled for Saturday February 24 – we can say that many end-of-life characters, dead people and ghosts will have populated the screens. The filmmakers showed creativity, sometimes stopping at nothing, to depict the mourning for which loved ones are preparing.

Let’s start with the futuristic Another End , by Italian Piero Messina, in the running for the Golden Bear. Sal (Gael Garcia Bernal) barely had time to say goodbye to his dying partner, Zoé (Renate Reinsve). But, in the age of artificial intelligence, we can bring back the missing person for a while, according to a protocol managed by scientists (Bérénice Bejo plays one of these experts): for remuneration, a person agrees to embody the dead by recovering his memory and his personality, but not his bodily envelope.

Sal welcomes an ersatz Zoe into his home. He falls in love with the young woman, then the story gets lost in a pole dancing club and the camera in the “male gaze”. Too bad, because it started out pretty well. This science fiction romance has already been overtaken by reality, since in China, engineers have developed programs to make a deceased person “live”, virtually on a screen, based on photos and recordings. made during his lifetime.

In Arcadia , by Yorgos Zois (Encounters section) – one of the representatives of the “weird” new Greek wave, with Yorgos Lanthimos, Athina Rachel Tsangari… – a retired doctor, Yannis (Vangelis Mourikis), has just lost his wife, Katerina, a neurologist, after her vehicle hit a bridge. She wasn’t alone. To try to understand, Yannis moves into the rental house she occupied with her lover. But something is wrong: a female presence (Angeliki Papoulia) stands beside him, silent, also carrying out research to remember. This strange tandem which does not communicate, but acts as a unit, becomes the driving force behind an enigmatic and Lynchian work of mourning.

Mental disorder

With Demba , second feature film by Senegalese Mamadou Dia (Encounters section), it is a powerful, kaleidoscopic montage, which allows us to enter the psyche of the widower Demba (Ben Mahmoud Mbow), municipal official in a small village in the north from Senegal, aging, sidelined at his office. Here, the evocations of the loved one nourish Demba’s mental disorder while soothing him, during furtive, muted scenes, constantly rearranging the puzzle.

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