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14th DMZ Docs(2022)

I AM DOCU



A Couple

Frederick WISEMAN

  • France, US
  • 2022
  • 63min
  • 12 +
  • DCP
  • color

AP

Synopsis

A Couple is a film about a long term relationship between a man and a woman. The man is Leo Tolstoy. The woman is his wife, Sophia. The Tolstoy’s were also a dysfunctional couple, arguing frequently and being very unhappy with each other while occasionally enjoying passionate moments of reconciliation. The film is Sophia’s monologue about the joys and struggles of their life together, loosely drawn from their letters to each other and their diary entries.

 

Review

Frederick Wiseman's A Couple is based on a short story by Sophia Tolstoy, the wife of the famed Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. The original story takes the form of a retrospective letter from Sophia to Tolstoy in her later years. Here, Wiseman asks, what is a cinematic adaptation that does not undermine the value of a literary work? Experienced reenacting a letter from a woman to her son in his 2002 film The Last Letter, Wiseman hired an actress to bring the richly nuanced original text into the film and applied the reenactment. Arguing whether it is narrative or non-narrative does not help to judge the true value of this film. This is because A Couple is a documentary based on text that explores whether the tone, emotion, and nuance of text can be fully preserved when translated into image. Juxtaposed with natural objects such as pond bushes and rocks submerged in waves, ants climbing trees, birds and flowers, Sophia's letters are recited by actress Natalie Boutefeu. In the process of adaptation, “fidelity” is translated into a completely new fictional film, a documentary film with a different meaning.​​

Director

  • Frederick WISEMAN

    Wiseman is an American filmmaker, documentarian, and theater director. His work is "devoted primarily to exploring American institutions".He has been called "one of the most important and original filmmakers working today"​​

Credit