“Resolving power” refers to a film stock or lens’ ability to “resolve” or pick out detail. I propose that the best way to pick out detail is to have the ability to study something at one’s leisure; to gaze upon it and let said detail soak into one’s brain. With that in mind, then, film is a lousy medium for absorbing detail. As each frame flashes by in 1/24th of a second (or 1/30th, if one is watching video), it’s virtually impossible to soak up the details. True, repeated viewings might help, but doing so still can’t compare with studying a photograph or painting.
Which is exactly why “Resolving Power” would have made a much better series of paintings or photos than it does a short film, director Francois Miron’s ambitious effort notwithstanding. The film follows a young man (Rick Trembles) through a series of increasingly surreal situations that play heavily on themes of fear and isolation.
Shot, (by Miron, I should point out), in a gorgeous, noir-tinged black and white and obviously influenced heavily by German expressionism, “Resolving Power” instead earns all of its points from its stunning photography, excellent art direction, and eclectic mix of stop-motion animation, optical effects, and time lapse photography. The film will take turns; sometimes causing the viewer to scratch his or head in bewilderment at what’s going on while simultaneously gaping in awe at its stark beauty.
What’s it all mean? Heck if I know, which is why “Resolving Power” falls short as a film. But it’s still hauntingly beautiful to stare at in a vain attempt to resolve its details.