Film Review: The Plains – 8/10

‘I guess I won’t be giving you a lift anymore then?’

Slow cinema has been a hot topic recently following the unexpected ascent of the incredibly plodding Belgian film Jeanne Dielman to the top of the prestigious BFI Best Films of All Time list. Whilst that film is undoubtedly snail-paced, it does have a memorable denouement and a clear message. The Plains is similarly slow but without the bombastic conclusion…

Part documentary-part drama, The Plains is a series of car journeys in which an older man (Andrew Rakowski) drives his younger co-worker David (David Easteal) home from work. Over the course of three hours, the relationship between the two men develops as they discuss mortality, relationships and finance.

Both actors play a dramatised and exaggerated version of themselves with Easteal also on directing duties. The camera sits in the back seat behind the two men as if the viewer is a child pretending to be asleep but secretly listening in to the strange conversations that the adults are engaged in. The closest we ever come to an actual plot is the ailing health of Andrew’s elderly mother, told through a series of one-sided phone calls, but rather than find the lack of action tedious, I eventually found The Plains to be strangely hypnotic, soothing even.

The Plains is unlike any other film I have seen and while I understand that for some it’ll feel like some kind of insane parody of experimental cinema, I found it to be oddly accessible. A strange and wonderful work.