I really have a low threshold for art house films that seek so purposely to become more than just a film, basically because in the end, its all so forced and desperate to be deemed as more than a film, and “The Eternal Present” is basically the example. During movies, I’m often very focused and alert, even in tripe like “Dogville”, but during “The Eternal Present” I found myself fidgeting, and often.
Not because of plot inconsistencies and performances, but because I was restless and irate at how this was so anxious to be thought of as anything but a film, that I couldn’t get over what director Buj was trying to accomplish. “The Eternal Present” is pseudo-intellectual art house dribble that basically has a target audience of the rare film snob who won’t watch a movie unless it has subtitles. From the very beginning Buj is more concerned with camera tricks, and impressing his audience, that he never focuses on his story which ends up becoming so tedious, so drawn out, and utterly snore-inducing. He admits that his story doesn’t make sense, and is more than happy to explain that he spent more time working with the camera than the narrative, and though the direction is competent, his admittance to this fact speaks of carelessness altogether.
From the black and white stark photography, people delivering their lines in a monotonous dead tone to one another with deadpan expressions, characters sitting in shady clubs smoking and exchanging cliché diatribes of life and death, and dialogue that so anxiously attempts to surpass characterization and continuously examines life, it’s mind-numbing. And Buj is never afraid to get stereotypical with scenes where there is no sound, and rapid cuts that are never impressive and just utterly distracting, while there is interludes of blackness between scenes that last well over ten seconds. Buj never thinks to construct a coherent story throughout his art house shenanigans, and from what I was able to gather, was that the main character who writes obituaries discovers that he plays a possible large part in people’s deaths.
The rest of the film consists of him making friends with a good looking young girl who happens to know more than he thinks, and his discovery of an alternate world of people like him. And in one inadvertently comical scene, he accepts his fate and dresses himself up in black, and black eye shadow, and ends up resembling Mike Meyer’s character Dieter in Saturday Night Live even including skull gloves. Nothing is ever what it seems in “The Eternal Present”, but it makes no effort in hiding that it is in fact dribble with no true direction or cohesiveness. Buj, in his statement on his film makes it clear he attempts to mimic Godard, but the sad fact is he never truly gets to that level.