Clarissa Thieme’s new short film, “Resort”, that had its Austrian premiere at this year’s Diagonale has an interesting backstory. The idea for it burgeoned during a location scouting tour on which the director accompanied the Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Žbanić.
The short is set, as its title suggests, at a holiday resort, in the elegance of bygone days, and follows an actress, Kathrin Resetarits, through a day’s schedule filled by idle time determined by others and includes a casting session for a film and a bizarre screen test.
“Resort” opens in the manner of a feature film with the actress finishing her breakfast. Then, her activities or lack thereof, begin. Thieme mainly uses a static approach when she films her scenes, with a fixed camera and largely POV shots and at times high-angle shots. At times, she indulges in taking time to show us certain maritime landscapes and in doing so she also shows her talent for framing. She has a very discerning eye indeed. The editing is not chronological, which adds a certain dynamic to the otherwise unshifting film and comes from Claire Denis’ influence on the young director. Clarissa Thieme succeeds in capturing Resetarits’ despair, loneliness and weariness and we somewhat feel sorry for her even though we haven’t been presented with any information on her background. In that sense, this character is slightly underdeveloped but the nature of the project does not allow more depth and coherence. We should not forget that its story and atmosphere were created by the post-socialist architecture it captures. Moreover, with its grey cinematographic palette, Resort may come across as a cold and emotionless film, just like the weather and the mood it tries to convey. Ultimately, “Resort” is desperate, grey and static.
Make no mistake, this is in no way to say that “Resort” is no good for it is not the case. It has a highly inventive premise that unfortunately lacks confidence. We look forward to seeing Clarissa Thieme’s next project while saluting this earnest cinematic endeavor!
Note: This review was originally published on www.nisimasa.com and on Yellow Bread’s sister publication, The Film Prospector, in March 2014.