Directed by Nora Jaenicke | Review by Moumita Deb
Nora Jaenicke weaves a powerful visual tapestry of tear-jerking emotional experience through this passionate saga. It’s a saga that reveals the story of two musically talented lovers who meet when they are both stuck in a professional rut. Both Alicia and Adrian have grown out of sync with their music and ultimately themselves. Alicia, a struggling opera singer, loses her ability to synchronize and sing in harmony when she realizes she is letting go her long-nurtured dreams. At the same time, Adrian, a classically trained pianist, loses the ability to play in sync with music when thoughts of his conflicting past cloud his mind. Both musicians happen to discover mysterious red envelopes which lead them to a surreal clock world. Here they must figure out how to synchronize themselves or they risk being able to play music again. Eventually, the two manage to indulge in a world of self-exploration and learn how to make music once again.
With its anachronistic aspects and timeless feel, Between Seconds pulls you in with a sense of romantic mystery. It also keeps you wrapped up in the story with its symbols and intelligent use of visual motifs. These motifs deal with the themes of love, loss, introspection and mysterious influence of the mere passage of time. Adrian realizes the time is his main enemy. He spends weeks alone in his loft, trying to erase all the memories of a woman he lost due to various time-related circumstances. But no matter how hard he tries he is unable to move on. He’s scheduled to perform at a neighborhood cafe, where he’s expected to perform a song that reminds him of his lost love. However, he’s promised not to play this song for anyone else.
The feelings of compassion and humanity shine through this movie. It is a demanding film from an artist who is determined to make the audience experience something beyond their regular expectations. In this dual protagonist story, the two intersecting characters may or may not spend the time of their lives together. However, both of them have their distinct transformation arc. In Between Seconds, Alicia and Adrian experience parallel paths and each of them has their unique influence on both the plotline and the transformation of character. However, in a deft bit of storytelling, the big lesson they learn is that sadness is not an emotion to be ignored or restrained. Instead, it is an authentic state of mind to be felt at times. This is pretty much where the plot ends up – in other words, their journeys co-align at the end. There’s a sophisticated balancing art between the protagonists in their external and intrapersonal worlds.
Between Seconds has a complex approach when it comes to the internal world dynamics – intricate emotions of protagonists are unfolded layer by layer. The conflicting thoughts and experiences pave the way to the transformation of Alicia and Adrian. Alicia’s inner voice is telling her to be strong and not to allow her true feeling of sadness to emerge and overpower her sheer positivity. She struggles with both throughout the movie. The idea that us humans can be multiple selves, an ever-evolving product of conflicting emotions and painfully-gained insights, is readily understandable. A battle between these emotions is personified and clearly manifested throughout the film. Alicia is certainly not passive but reactive, struggling with emotions, finding new ways of handling her sadness.
Psychologically speaking, there’s one thing I found truly engaging in this movie – the interplay between the character’s internal and external world, the conflict between reality and fantasy. To this day, there is no unanimity of opinion among scientists about the nature of consciousness, so the questions like “why we do what we do” and “who we are” remain mysteries. Between Seconds takes a whack at these issues in the form of Alicia’s particular story. Throughout the movie, what happens in her inner world influenced by Adrian’s traumatic emotional experience lends a colorful take on human consciousness. This is how I experienced this movie but of course, there’s no right or wrong in interpreting a film. Each of us brings an entire lifetime of experiences, memories, feelings, knowledge, and everything else to a story when we watch, read or hear it.
Moumita is a Kolkata based independent filmmaker and film critic. She holds a post- graduation degree in English literature from Jadavpur University. Reading novels of a wide range of authors of all genres from classic to contemporary has always been Moumita’s passion and calling. She also takes a strong liking in playing the Spanish guitar & has participated in quite a few concerts. Moumita has done her certification course in Cinematography, Video Editing and Filmmaking.