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Hidden gem: "Tuvalu"

Posted at 4:36 PM on August 3, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Having stumbled across the trailer for Veit Helmer's extraordinarily quirky "Tuvalu" some time ago, it was only last night that I finally watched the now almost decade old film.

It's a surreal romance set in a decaying gothic swimming pool, populated by staff and patrons who speak a mixture of several languages. Anton (French Actor Denis Lavant) works hard to keep the pool open, and to keep his blind father happy, going as far as to rig up a tape recorder to play the sounds of a busy pool to convince his dad things are going well.

Yet the forces of progress are on the horizon in the shape of Anton's unscrupulous brother Gregor who wants to demolish the pool for a new high-rise. Things get even more complicated when Eva, ( played by the stunning Russian actor Chulpan Hamatova,) moves in. Eva is a young woman whose home has already fallen to Gregor's wrecking ball and she arrives looking for shelter with her father. Anton falls for her, as he sees her swimming in the pool with her pet goldfish. His love is tesed though as she tries to steal an important valve from the pool's boiler to get her steamboat running.

The plot is strange, and gets stranger, but what makes this film so arresting are the incredible images shot inside a real public pool in Sofia Bulgaria, Director Helmer shot the film in black and white then tinted the film in blues and sepias which adds to the feeling this is an homage to the films of the silent age.

It's a film which you have to approach with an open mind, and it's up to each viewer to decide if it's nonsense or great art. Whatever it is, it's an experience.

August 2008
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