A young woman succumbs to summer doldrums while home alone in Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner’s stellar directorial debut. Shot using a warm 16mm-stock, Beatrix’s slice-of-life look at the daily rhythms of its enigmatic titular character is playful and mesmerizing.
Lazing about a mid-century modern apartment somewhere in Austria, Beatrix spends her days watching television in the comfort of her underpants, feeding a stray cat, and stargazing. When a possible boyfriend visits, she flirts with love; when tidying her living room she gets easily swallowed up by languor; and when an old friend visits, she’s overcome by a sudden urge to dance. Played with a calculated effortlessness by Eva Sommer, Beatrix remains inscrutable throughout the film, refusing to explain her mercurial disposition and denying the film the ability to define it for her.
“Above all, I would say that friendship, trust and caring for each other was the ground from which this project had the possibility to develop. We tried to translate this intimacy formally by only using one lens that led us to always being particularly close to our protagonist.” LILITH KRAXNER
The film’s observational approach to household tasks and ostensibly trivial moments in Beatrix’s life resembles portraiture. Except, its directors’ are less interested in producing a psychological picture as they are an anatomically precise one. Speaking about the film, Kraxner stressed her curiosity about “how the smallest movements, gestures and facial expressions work.” In focusing on the tiniest things, Kraxner and Czernovsky locate life’s perennial elements, patching together passing truths into a universal portrait that anyone who has ever fallen victim to an existential summer daze will find relatable.
Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner are both rising Austrian filmmakers with a deft understanding of their cinema’s look and feel. Czernovsky is a student at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna where she studies scenography. Kraxner began working with analog film while studying at Friedl Kubelka School for Independent Film; she now studies video and video installation at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The duo is currently working on a new feature similarly about small moments and encounters in the lives of two disoriented characters drifting through winter.
In August, we’re taking a more relaxed pace; our films will screen for two weeks. Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.
- Credits for
- Eva Sommer, Katharina Farnleitner, &Marthe de Crouy-Chanel
- Antonia de la Luz Kašik
- Milena Czernovsky & Lilith Kraxner
- Benedikt Palier