Next up from Fantasia, was Lorenzo Bianchini’s wilderness thriller Across The River.
After a wildlife biologist (Marco Marchese) becomes trapped on the wrong side of the river while collecting data, he comes across an abandoned village. Taking shelter, he begins to suspect he may be sharing the grounds with more than just boar and deer.
I found Across The River a little perplexing. It is one of those films that I wanted to like more than I did, yet still more than I should have. I’m actually surprised by how much this film held my interest, considering it is excruciatingly slow and almost without dialogue. I mean it got to a point where I started wondering if there was anything more to this film than just Marchese wandering around the Slovenian wastelands. It is to the Bianchini’s credit that he was able to successfully use the locale and sound design to fill in for the lack of traditional narrative.
|Marco Marchese in Across The River.|
However, when the antagonists finally did show themselves, I was left even more confused by some of the stylistic choices. I’m sure their few appearances, which involved weird cut-ins and oddly timed reveals, would have been creepy if they weren’t so jarring. It was as if Bianchini wasn’t aware of “the rules”. Maybe that was the intent. If that’s the case, then all he did was leave me scratching my head.
In structure and tone, Across The River reminded me of the 2008 Finnish film Sauna. I believe that film was slightly superior in that there was more to chew on and led to a better payoff, but they both shared the same minimalist storytelling vibe. Lastly, I have to say that I was glad the recorded video footage was kept to a minimum, as after seeing three of four “found footage” films over the last few weeks, I’m a bit POV’d out.
Across The River took a long time to get where it was going and it's fair to say the journey was more satisfying than the conclusion.