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In his stylish and original debut feature “Luz”, German filmmaker Tilman Singer takes the audience on a uniquely non-linear journey.

Luz

The often mind-bending, yet captivating concept creates one of the most interesting and disturbing films that I have seen this year. If you are tired of filmmakers telling you every detail of the story, and want to exercise your brain cells, then LUZ is the perfect film for you.

Is it conceivable to love a film, even if the film confuses the hell out of you?

German filmmaker Tilman Singer’s 16mm film LUZ is possibly a perfect example. At only 70 minutes, this unique, retro styled and original film got under my skin, drew me in, leaving me desiring more. LUZ is an exercise in manipulation, in that the director plays with the audience’s head and leaves a lot to the imagination.

LUZ begins in the lobby of an old deserted police station, with a single wide-angle lens shot. Luz, (Luana Velis) a taxi driver, limps slowly in, obviously injured and is almost completely ignored by the man working at the desk. When he finally notices her, she starts yelling sentences that make no sense — an irreverent version of the Lord’s Prayer.

The mood is set, and the odd adventure begins.

With the atmosphere, sensuality and suspense of a giallo film, the audience is taken deeply into the mind of Luz, via a story told by a schoolmate of hers, Nora. (Julia Riedler)

Cut to an almost empty bar. Young and handsome Rossini, (Jan Blurhardt) sits alone having a drink, when the only other patron, who is Nora, asks him if he is a doctor. He’s wearing a pager; he must be a doctor. When he finally admits to her that he is a psychologist, she sits next to him, buys him more drinks and proceeds to tell him about a friend of hers, years ago at a Catholic school in Chile — Luz.

Soon enough, we see she is possessed by something, and she passes that evil into the body of Rossini.

Her story continues, now told through Luz’s eyes, but switches to the police station where the demon possessed Rossini now is, interrogating Luz. Rossini hypnotizes her, has a translator to understand her Spanish (there were subtitles for everything). And the rest of the story comes in her visions, as she deftly pantomimes activities from her past and recent present.

The room was set up with chairs to represent where she was supposed to be. But then we could see it as if it was real. This was such a cutting edge and ingenious way to tell the story.

Right from the beginning, it is obvious there were many influences.

Singer pays homage to Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and even a touch of David Cronenberg.

But there is no doubt this is still an original movie, not just a copy of another. Even with the grainy looking 16mm film, it still manages to feel fresh and unique in its own way. This may not be a film for a huge commercial audience: there is too much left for the audience to fill in. But true fans of more Avant-Garde type films will embrace it.

The connection between the actors was truly what made this work.

They were all incredible. Velis and Blurhardt become almost interchangeable, as he rips off his clothes and dresses like a woman. He now becomes part of the story. I had to laugh and feel sorry for the poor guy stuck in the room doing the translating. He was so confused and terrified watching the interrogation get stranger every minute.

I honestly can’t tell you more of the story. This film must be discovered and worked out by each individual watching it. You will see many different things than I did.

This is what makes this film so strangely engaging.

This puzzling concept is so much more than any one type of genre. You must take from it what you personally see. Not everyone will understand what they saw, but they will be talking about it!

Having written all that, I wondered how close I was to understanding anything. But in a statement from the director himself he says:

“LUZ is a story about identity, a lack of one, or maybe even denying one’s own…. It is purposely open to interpretation by the viewer. LUZ is a sensuous thriller that plays with the sensory perception of the audience.”

So, there you go. I guess I kind of understood what he was doing, even if I am not sure what it all meant.

LUZ will be opening theatrically in New York (IFC Center, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema City Point, Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg) and Los Angeles (Laemmle Monica, Laemmle Glendale) on Friday, July 19, with a national release to follow.

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