To some, film is an extension of the stage, where human actions have been depicted for centuries before cine started flickering. After all, many of the earliest films were “canned dramas,” brief scenes from stageplays starring Sarah Bernhardt and the like. Today, stage-loving filmmakers attempt experimental theater and performance art on screen. Their actors strive for a greater suspension of disbelief when doing things like throwing on sheets to “become” ghosts. Even the most understanding viewers are biased to the modern advents of CGI, and we expect new trickery to present the ghostly (especially in the post-“Pirates of the Caribbean” milieu).
The Spanish production “Finisterrae,” however, expands the stagey performance art technique described above so its two leads in sheets can pop up in unlikely places and encounter a similarly mysterious performer who lifts her sheet to dance topless. Yes, it’s as aimless as it sounds, with the two lead slumming ghosts wandering to reach some kind of allegory that’s never found. The overwrought symbolism is a lot to swallow, especially in a film already bogged down by its pacing and obscure performance style (oppressed loners from a Samuel Beckett play who, oddly, have the freedom of travel). With absurdism relying on comical irony, the film has its share of legit jokes, though we soon expect far more than the film can deliver. Remember how, in “Love and Death,” Woody Allen had an actor don a sheet? If not, that’s because the Woodman did it sparsely for farce, where less made for much more.