Electric Shadows Extra


Posted by in July's Magazine

Greta Garbo supposedly once said, “I want to be alone.” It’s one of the best-known quotes of the twentieth century, perhaps because many consider it an unusual request. In a world where people desperately strive for fame and notoriety, the words ‘I want to be alone’ stand apart. The film Nothing Personal takes this idea of wanting to be alone as a starting point, and from this develops a beautiful, simple story about human connection and disconnection. Set against the spectacular backdrop of the west coast of Ireland, the film follows the journey of a young woman who has left behind her life in Holland, and all her worldly possessions, to go in search of solitude… freedom.

In the wilderness of Connemara, Ireland, the woman, played by Lotte Verbeek, finds the isolation she is searching for. Encounters with others are rare and she is happy to be able to spend time by herself. The film’s writer and director, Urszula Antoniak, echoes my thoughts, “Solitude as a choice, for me, means freedom. If you can choose solitude then you are free. There are a lot of people who want to be alone and they are not alone. It is a privilege, not something pitiful.”

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The plot unfolds when the woman comes upon a small, quaint, cottage on an isolated peninsula. The sole occupant of the cottage is Martin, played by Stephen Rea, another individual who has opted for a hermit-like existence. The woman agrees to work for him, on the land, in exchange for food. Few words pass between the characters, but in particular nothing personal is discussed – we do not even know the woman’s name.

Freedom bestowed
Consequently the viewer is allowed to make their own assumptions about the background and motivation of these two people. Just like her characters, Antoniak has bestowed on us a freedom. It’s refreshing not to be told everything, and any ambiguity resulting from this simply adds layers of possibility and hidden depths to the movie. Grief is hinted at as a commonality between the two characters, from which feelings of connection slowly stem.

Nothing Personal has already won numerous prestigious awards and looks set for a strong release both in Europe and America. It is a powerful and inspirational debut feature from Urszula Antoniak; watch out for screenings in Edinburgh’s art-house cinemas in the coming months. Jo Power

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