Places in Cities opens with a young man professing his love to a young girl. He knows that she is too young for him, and asks if he can call for her when she is older. She quietly says yes to this notion, with the scene coming to a close. Throughout this entire opening sequence this young woman's back is to the camera. On first glance the opening sequence feels wildly out of place, a typical ending more than a beginning, but as Angela Schanelec's Places in Cities moves forward, introducing Mimmi as the central character, the intentions of the film, while difficult, begin to come into focus. Places in Cities shows little interest in narrative structure, relying heavily on its artistic technique and the emotional ellipses of Mimmi to capture life itself. While watching the film I began to suspect this was another coming of age drama but the film demystifies every type of romanticism and tragedy of this young girl's plight, with Schanelec merely being an observant eye to the trials and tribulations of life. Don't get me wrong, we see the strife between Mimmi and her mother, and how Mimmi goes from city to city and boyfriend to boyfriend, with the film's cinematography brilliantly using framing and lighting to capture her isolation and perceived loneliness. We are shown the emptiness surrounding her life with some rather typical use of wide shots but it's the films lighting which really stood out for me. Shanelec uses darkness to such great effect, capturing how Mimmi is emotionally shut off from the world around her. Through all this though, one must look back to the beginning to understand Shanelec's intentions for she does not view the character of Mimmi as tragic. Through all of this muck, Mimmi does share moments of joy and it's this elliptical effect which captures life itself. Places in Cities certainly captures the aimless or perhaps anxiousness which comes from being young, but Schanelec doesn't appear interested in making conclusions, almost as if being intent on capturing life, in which no one knows the answers, yet one must keep pushing forward and dreaming, while never giving up.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.