José Luis Guerin’s breakthrough feature, In the City of Sylvia (2007), was largely wordless, but this subsequent effort (2015) is fiercely verbal, an interminable colloquy conducted inside and outside a philology class taught by a forceful middle-aged academic (Raffaele Pinto). His course focuses on the power of the muse in art and literature, and the esoteric dialogue (Pinto is a professor in real life) creates a kind of surface flash, below which various seductions play out among the students and their balding, bespectacled pedagogue. Guerin has written that he focused on “the staging of word: to that infinite space opened through the confrontation between two faces.” Those faces can be beautiful and meaningful, though they can be hard to appreciate amid the torrent of subtitled and highly abstract dialogue. The film is demanding, intellectually voracious, and reminiscent of Last Year at Marienbad in its brittle aestheticism. In Spanish with subtitles.
The Academy of Muses
1 hour 32 min • 2015