Grey Matters of the Heart: Autumn Ball screening at FNC

Life, as portrayed in Autumn Ball, is bleak and confusing, cold and twisted, moving, comical and downright honest. Estonian filmmaker Veio Ounpuu, with his most gentle brush stroke, has painted for us the lives of six Estonians as they struggle with self-identity and loneliness upon a canvas of grey, soviet-era housing blocks.

Life, as portrayed in Autumn Ball, is bleak and confusing, cold and twisted, moving, comical and downright honest.
Estonian filmmaker Veio Ounpuu, with his most gentle brush stroke, has painted for us the lives of six Estonians as they struggle with self-identity and loneliness upon a canvas of grey, soviet-era housing blocks.
Set long after the fall of communism in Estonia, a writer named Mati grips the rail of his balcony. The day looks brisk, and Mati gives the impression that he may jump – he is most certainly troubled. He is drunk again, abusive to his ex-girlfriend and a danger to himself. He wallows in self-pity all while searching for another companion, comically failing to do so.
Maurer, an architect, won’t move from his soviet block as if in some kind of social experiment. While he studies his designs first hand, he ignores his own girlfriend’s needs. She is left depressed, he is embittered and inhumane, the very anti-thesis of what he wants to achieve for others with his idealistic outlook. He looks at the world from a ‘Sims-City’ type perspective, forgetting about the heart of each person, treating them as part of the big picture
Theo, a humbled doorman, anchors the film. Women love his honesty, he loves many women, but his low social status prevents him from finding lasting love. Laura, a single mother, has no one but her daughter to give her existence some meaning.
Accurately so, the film’s cinematography is stark and representative. Some scenes are overly indulgent, but for the most part the story is given a proper treatment. Well directed and superbly acted, the complexity of the characters find a way through the drama, and play the blue notes which color this film as something more special then your average melodrama.
The film would be bleak if taken too seriously. Ounpuu pushes the story comically along and in doing so has created a great black comedy. The monologue of the story, as delivered by Mati, sums up the drama: We are all looking for happiness, each of us in our own little box. Mati describes himself as wind passing along a grey concrete wall, while smoking a cigarette and staring out the balcony of his high-rise.
Estonia is a country off the Baltic Sea. Russia neighbors its east perimeter and was once part of the Soviet Union. In 2004, it became part of the European Union and has experienced a booming economy for quite some time now. Characteristically, its weather is bleak and rainy and the cityscape remains reminiscent of its soviet past.
The characters in this film exemplify the search for individual identity as a means of achieving happiness. They seem as lost as the soviet projects of the past, and while they look inward by looking out, their environment chillingly typifies their confusion and lost dreams.

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