Writer/Director: Paul Gallasch
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings - Thur 7 Jun 6.00pm
That most grating aspect of the modern documentary - the ‘artist as the subject’ device - infuses much of Paul Gallasch’s film-school project, Killing Anna, with the feel of a one-man performance piece rather than a fact-based film. But that makes the accomplishment of this young Aussie abroad no less impressive; though it is ultimately a bit of a lark that plays better as a concept than a film, it does what I believe its sets out to do – position Gallasch for a career post-graduation.
Despite the grungy design template that the film employs, the idea for Killing Anna is kinda cute and one that will lend itself just nicely to a bitter-sweet Hollywood re-versioning. Deep in a funk after being dumped by the girl of his dreams, Gallasch documents his decision to officially bury her forever with a mock-funeral. He’ll stage it grandly, with friends, flowers and invitations, and hope that her memory will be forever erased. In doing so, he is also drawn into an exploration on the larger themes of what love is, what makes love work, how do you stay in love, etc.
There is a little too much contrivance in the methods Gallasch employs to create intimacy with his audience. Accompanied by the droning monotone of the detached, urban 20-something, we watch Gallasch roll a joint, veg-out on his unmade bed in his underpants and exude a sullen coolness. There’s some fun irony in his choice of ‘depressed-guy’ viewing – Ken Burn’s 680 minute recounting of The Civil War – but it also feels all glibly convenient; it’s the sort of mood-defining ploy a seasoned screenwriter might use.
Inconsistencies abound that undermine the film’s reality – Gallasch is forced into a dilapidated share-house with 5 women, but can afford flowers and a tux for the funeral. We conveniently meet Anna, who swears she will never sign a waiver to allow use of her image, yet...here we are. And Gallasch himself is a strange construct; he seeks openness from those around him, but catching himself in a moment of deep sadness, he dramatically smacks the camera (and, by extension, his audience) away.
Flourishes such as slow-motion running through city streets (a motif he introduces with an equally arty opening shot) and a rather pointless visit to the Coachella music festival to get laid (wouldn’t that have been easier at some NYC nite-club?) don’t add much in the way of profundity. Some of the more believable moments are Gallasch’s interactions with older, wiser souls, in particular his father’s ruminations on getting over love gone bad.