Opus Zero

Review by Hannah Woodhead @goodjobliz

Directed by

Daniel Graham

Starring

Andrés Almeida Carlos Aragón Willem Dafoe

Anticipation.

Always nice to spend some time with Willem Dafoe.

Enjoyment.

Separate narrative threads never quite come together.

In Retrospect.

Stylish scenery can’t save this sluggish, over-laboured effort.

Willem Dafoe plays a composer who goes looking for answers in Mexico in this slow and meandering drama.

Let it never be said that Willem Dafoe isn’t a hard worker. In the past two years alone he’s received 13 credits, with a further three projects expected in 2020. At Cannes earlier this year he received rave reviews for his performances in Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse and Abel Ferrara’s Tommaso – but with those films yet to name a UK release date, instead our attention turns to a 2017 curio that has finally slipped into cinemas: Daniel Graham’s philosophical Opus Zero.

Dafoe’s brooding composer Paul travels to a remote Mexican village to take care of his recently deceased father’s affairs, but while sorting through his belongings, discovers a photograph of a young woman that captivates him. Through conversations with the locals he discovers she went missing some 30 years earlier, but the film doesn’t really dwell too much on that plot thread, instead quickly becoming distracted by a documentary crew who arrive in town and quickly clash with the residents.

Even with its sub 90-minute runtime, the film moves at a snail’s pace, as Paul wanders around the village and then disappears almost entirely towards the second half as the filmmakers take over, with the director attempting to convince the village folk to “act naturally” and being met with general bewilderment. The moody cinematography and philosophical musings within the script hint at a desire for auteur credibility, but the final product is a meandering, wispy bore that not even Dafoe can carry.

Published 12 Aug 2019

Tags: Daniel Graham Willem Dafoe

Anticipation.

Always nice to spend some time with Willem Dafoe.

Enjoyment.

Separate narrative threads never quite come together.

In Retrospect.

Stylish scenery can’t save this sluggish, over-laboured effort.

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