Review: The End of Suffering (A Proposal) (2020)

Courtesy of Square Eyes

The films by Jacqueline Lentzou are the staple diet of different types of film festivals, and her style is a specific blend of narrative and experimental forged in order to deal with the philosophical questions that are often in the centre of her works.

Her newest film, The End of Suffering (A Proposal) has started its festival tour at this year’s edition of Locarno (in the Leopards of the Future selection) before heading on a fruitful festival tour where it stopped at Chicago, AFI, Montreal and Uppsala, among others. Currently, the last stop on that tour is Pravo Ljudski Film Festival, where we had a chance to see it again.

A girl in her late teens or early twenties, played by Lentzou’s muse Sofia Kokkali, gets a panic attack after getting off the train. It is not her first time. The Universe decides to contact her and the two have a chat after which she is free, kind of reborn. But, for how long?

The dialogue between the two takes up a majority of the film’s runtime, with the introduction and the ending being coded in a different manner, visually and sound-wise. They seem more natural and even warm due to analogue cinematography, and are also accompanied by the less abstract music, whether it is synth pop at the beginning or progressive rock in the end. The middle part, the conversation, could be also divided in two chapters. In the first the animation takes over the night sky, as the two establish the connection, while the rest of conversation concerning mainly Mars as the planet and the god of war is marked by a striking red filter. The content of the imagery, from the deserted quarry to the animals and the humans performing sports trainings and “rituals”, could be read as a certain symbolism, but the coding is not very clear.

Actually, Lentzou lets the thoughts wander seemingly free like it’s sometimes the case with conversations, be it with the Universe or between people. In that “anything goes” kind of approach, there are a lot of carefully designed audiovisual elements to be enjoyed on their own terms, thanks to the masterful work of the cinematographer Konstantinos Koukoulios, the editor Smaro Papaevangelou and especially the sound designer Leandros Ntounis. As a writer and director, Jacqueline Lentzou is makes sure to end the whole thing with a certain poignancy, although The End of Suffering (A Proposal) is still slightly less than the sum of its parts.

Runtime: 14’ 15’’
Country: Greece
Language: Greek
Directed by: Jacqueline Lentzou
Written by: Jacqueline Lentzou
Cast: Sofia Kokkali
Cinematography by: Konstantinos Koukoulios
Editing by: Smaro Papaevangelou
Sound design by: Leandros Ntounis
Set decoration by: Eva Goulakou
Make-up by: Ionna Lygizou
Colourist: Dimitris Karteris
Assistant director: Stevi Panagiotaki
Produced by: Fenia Cossovitsa
Production company: Blonde Audiovisual Productions
Distribution by: Square Eyes