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In a desolate and colorless landscape stands a dilapidated bathhouse run by a puffed-up blind man, his long-suffering wife, and their son Anton, who does all the work. He's lonely and unsophisticated, and he falls in love with the beautiful Eva, who comes to bathe with her father. When Eva and her father lose their home, they come to the bathhouse to stay, but bits of the ceiling fall on the old man and he dies. Eva blames Anton, and she seems to seek the arms of the brute Gregor. Can Anton win back her heart, get the bathhouse through a rigorous government inspection, and help keep his parents employed? Waiting out there somewhere is the paradise isle of Tuvalu.Written by
Brilliantly offbeat fairy tale around a swimming pool
I have never been particularly fond of movies with taglines like "a poetic adventure" or "a journey into the land of dreams" stamped on their front, as this kind of advertising is usually nothing more than a weak excuse for the absence of a coherent plot or some in-depth characterization, leaving you in the guess why the filmmakers didn't stick to the painting of aquarelles in the first place. My expectations sank even lower when I understood that there wasn't going to be any dialogue in "Tuvalu", at least not in the proper sense of the term. So this couldn't be more than a soothing eye candy at best; hopefully free from the embarrassing "isn't our imagination a wonderful thing"-moments or the "why can't we all be children forever"-messages that tend to haunt this specific genre.
After a few moments into the film, I was entirely cured from that kind of prejudice. "Tuvalu" surprisingly brings across the magic that is promised on the poster - and it works well for a variety of reasons. First of all, despite the movie's innocent fairy tale character, it isn't coy about adult themes at all (like all good fairy tales, for that matter). We actually even have scenes of violence and nudity, but both are introduced in a very playful and witty manner; in a style which I should consider perfectly suitable for children.
Secondly, "Tuvalu" is hilariously funny, and at times, the humour is pretty far from being tongue-in-cheek... There is a lot of crude slapstick going on, and sometimes the whole movie is close to the coarseness of a Punch and Judy show; but most of the time one just laughs at the sheer originality and inventiveness of the production. Furthermore, the sparse use of words proves to be a great means of comedy as well - the effect is somewhat comparable to the quasi-absence of comprehensible language in Jacques Tati's films, or, for those who have seen it, in "Themroc".
Thirdly, there is always joy in watching talented and charismatic actors under the direction of a talented director and screenwiter. You can tell that everyone involved in the making was perfectly devoted to the project; and this justified euphoria of the makers comes across in almost every scene. They probably knew that they were doing something special, and this is indeed what they have achieved. Additionally, Helmer's use of light and colour is always original, but never distracting; every scene of this movie is simply beautiful to look at. Yes, I should say, imagination is a wonderful thing and it is an utter shame that we can't be children forever.
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