- Quietly beautiful 8/18/2014 12:00:00 AM by GraemeB
The Hour of Living is not a film for everyone - I think that's fair to say. But I think it's a film worth seeing.
In the interests of full disclosure, I've been an admirer of director Sebastian Michael's other work in theatre and performance since I saw him on the Edinburgh Fringe in 1997. And I'm one of the people who gave a little bit of money to the crowd fund that funded the film.
Even so, I was genuinely apprehensive about watching The Hour of Living because I was worried that the film would, you know, suck. Or be amateurish. Or so arty that I couldn't stand it. Because, frankly, all of the above would be awkward.
I needn't have worried. I genuinely enjoyed The Hour of Living with the proviso that it's a film that's not for everyone. Something that you might detect in the other review here on IMDb.
What I love about The Hour of Living is it's both theatre and a film. Scenes play out languidly with characters talking at length (I'll get back to that in a moment), often as two-handed scenes. It's more at home in a play and not remotely visual. But what The Hour of Living does is take that theatrical scene and play it out in scenes that are visually gorgeous. The Swiss alps have rarely been rendered so beautifully on film. Every pixel of digital video whether looking at a mountainous vista or Sebastian Michael's own craggy face in close-up or food being prepared is gorgeously composed and shot. The result is unnervingly counter-intuitive for film: It's non-visual but visual at the same time. In essence, you have pretty things to distract you from the fact people are, yes, talking for a long time.
But what are they talking about? For me the subtlety of how that question is explored is really quite beautiful. At it's core, The Hour of Living is about two people mapping out the height and breadth of something that's been absent from their lives-- for one a father, for the other an object of love. Neither know how to define that absence. They explore it in many ways-- through anger, through sadness, through silence-- but in the end they're drawn to that absence like a tongue to a missing tooth. And so they talk until such talk peters out and then they eat or walk and talk some more.
It is, I suppose "adramatic", if such a term could be said. It doesn't build to easy resolution but rather just decides when it's ready to resolve. That is really not to everyone's taste. But I adore it.
The reason it works for me is the performances by Sam Fordham and Sebastian Michael. They're understated but disarmingly honest. There's a beautiful scene when (no spoilers) Michael's character tries to explain the nature of depression and it's not showy or histrionic, it's just unbelievably matter of fact. And I have to say I was terribly moved by that precisely because it was so matter of fact. Fordham has the harder job of being young and impatient and trying to define the world on his terms and, sometimes, succeeding at it in the way only the young can. Fordham is beautifully playful as Theo. Flirtatious but un-self- conscious about it. He's an actor to watch out for.
And there's this ensemble of quirky characters surrounding the film's central quest that add a lot of laughs before it shifts into its quieter second half. I loved Charlotte Heinmann as Gabrielle, who stole the first 20 minutes or so and probably committed petty larceny on several other films while I wasn't looking.
The Hour of Living is not for everyone. It's not even the sort of film I would probably seek out. But I was happy I watched it. It's experimental to be sure-- the editing is fashioned more like a series of fugues-- but it's also genuinely trying to do something different with the medium of film and when it succeeds it is quietly, achingly, beautiful.
- Sometimes the noble choice is the wrong choice ... 6/11/2020 12:00:00 AM by REDJunior
The future is unknown. To do your best is the best that you can hope for ... but what if that isn't enough? What if you do everything that you felt was right and still "bad things happen"?
Only four reviews here when I write this ... and a total of forty-two other ratings. Two reviews sound more like personal vendettas than reviews, but sadly that seems the norm these days. Everybody has a chip.
I liked this little film. I liked it not because it was polished and refined but because ... despite its clunky clumsiness at times ... it manages to fulfill its hope. This film is at its best at George and Theo. George helps Theo and George does this by no other means than to simply be. It is a quiet marvel to watch Theo grow ... using only the tools and context of his own young life thus far. George is the mentor that I'd wished I'd had. Actually ... and more accurately ... Theo has the skill set that I wish that I'd had, enough self awareness to let curiosity triumph over fear.
I wish I'd had that in spades.
- Turgid boring vanity project by self obsessed auteur. 5/19/2013 12:00:00 AM by ptb-8
The hour of Living is 112 minutes of genuine dead screen cinema. Whoever Sebastian Michael is, let's hope he never makes another film again and spends all his remaining hours of living working for a charity instead. Here is a 20 minute story that is palatable and interesting if it was a 20minute film. .....instead we have this pretentious meandering drivel wholly devoted to the face and writings of Mr Michael with endless long medium and extreme close ups of himself and young Theo all lovingly gazing about, smoking, sitting on a bench, all interrupted by the worst jangling harmonica songs by some wandering minstrel pal who appears in the film and sings some silly song about whatever we have just seen. All written, produced, directed, starring Mr Michael which must have been utter hell for anyone foolish enough to have agreed to work by his side, especially in the editing booth, since there is almost NO editing of any scene shot....The Hour Of Living is a text book case of how NOT to make a film and foist this on any unsuspecting audience. it had NO life on DVD and even in a Gay film fest this tedious pretentious and utterly preposterous film demands that the audience adore Mr Michaels genius which expires with the first song near the first overlong scene of two people just chit chatting. Edit Edit Edit Edit.
- Great to look at, but the story lacks.... 5/30/2020 12:00:00 AM by CinemaSerf
I'd have to start by saying that if Sam Fordham were not quite so cute, I may well have given up on this slightly meandering and disjointed tale early on. As it is, he is, so I stuck with it - and I am sort of glad I did. Fordham is "Theo" - a young man whose father committed suicide almost ten years earlier. He has long wanted to establish why he did this, and so embarks on a search to track down the one man who might have some answers - a journey that takes him high into the remote Swiss Alps where he meets "George" (auteur Sebastian Michael) where the two men start to make sense of it all. At times, the monochrome style helps give it some edge, but the characters have no depth, the dialogue vacillates badly in intensity - with some rather weak attempts at humour from time to time - and whilst there is also some sexual ambiguity, it's all just too underplayed. It is frequently interspersed/interrupted by a sort of depressing Celtic minstrel - Pepe Belmonte - and that robs the story of any head of steam the rather dull writing might have given it. It may well have worked better as a short(er) film; but this is strung out with too little in the way of drama to keep it interesting for almost two hours with far too much arty establishing and development photography that, though beautiful at times, becomes wearisome.
- A turtle's pace with a wonderful ending... 6/29/2020 12:00:00 AM by dantharpe
Initially, I was bored with this movie. The pace was a bit painful but the dilemma Theo had in trying to learn more about his dad kept me hooked.There is much inspiration, encouragement, and humanness in this film. Life is full of situations that bring pain and hurt often forcing us to alter our course in life. This is that story. With tender respect and a little animosity, Theo is able to find the answers he needs while helping someone special in his dad's life before he died.
I would love to see a remake of this movie with a more progressive pace. That was really the only thing that made watching the movie difficult. At the same time it is an awesome movie, a great story, and one that will touch your heart.