The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez lacks as much momentum as it does sense. After the great opening 3D shots of Paris, the film proceeds to disappear up itself and stay there for an excruciatingly tedious 90 minutes that feel like an eternity – with very little to redeem it.
Based on a play by Austrian playwright Peter Handke (director Wim Wenders’ fourth adaptation of his), this is arthouse cinema at its most self-indulgent and inaccessible. Wenders, no newcomer behind the camera, delivers a technically strong film with pretty flourishes of colour and an impressive attempt at making the same square 100 metres look dynamic, the camera swooping around the characters when it is not closely observing their faces. The backdrops are beautiful, the soundtrack is great, the film even manages to pleasantly surprise at a couple of points – but not until it’s too late.
The actual content of the film is nonsensical and erratic at best, and sexist and unrelatable at its worst. The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez is a series of long monologues by a pair of characters, a man and a woman, that are being created in front of our eyes by a lonely, clearly nostalgic writer – with a jukebox that quite literally soundtracks the film, the script being written before us on a typewriter. These monologues sometimes read like poetry written by a scorned 15 year-old boy, stringing metaphysical concepts, the nature of man and woman, love, and birds in what feels like one long anticlimax.
The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez is a beautifully shot, disappointing, boring and sexist justification of the male artist ego without momentum or point. The first mark out of five is for the cinematography, and the second is reserved for Nick Cave.
CAST: Sophie Semin, Reda Kateb, Nick Cave, Peter Handke
DIRECTOR: Wim Wenders
WRITERS: Peter Handke, Wim Wenders
SYNOPSIS: A conversation piece, in which a dialogue between a man and a woman elicits a reverie on love, freedom, and beauty.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]