Film Review: The Death and Life of Otto Bloom

Cinematography by László Baranyai HSC ACS.

Review by James Cunningham.

The opening film of this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival was a fictional documentary written and directed by Cris Jones, making his feature debut. Starring Xavier Samuel and Rachel Ward, the film was produced by, among others, Melanie Coombs who produced the Oscar-winning Harvey Krumpet (2003).

Masterfully shot by László Baranyai HSC ACS, we follow Bloom who is experiencing his life in reverse, passing through time backwards while remembering the future. The film was shot in January this year in and around Melbourne, and alongside Samuel one of the film’s outstanding stars is Baranyai’s cinematography.

Years ago, documentaries were synonymous with lower production quality and were typically filmed on lower-end cameras. There were, of course, those documentaries that went against the grain and strived for higher production values; Errol Morris’ The Fog Of War (2004) shot by Robert Chappell, The Imposter (2012) filmed by Lynda Hall and Erik Wilson, or the outstanding interview work of our own Louie Eroglu ACS (ABC’s The Killing Season) all come to mind.

Baranyai masterfully executes a delicate balance between his interview footage and the accompanying material.The Death And Life Of Otto Bloom looks just as good, if not better, than many narrative films. This is largely thanks to the fact that documentary shooters like Baranyai have access to the same cinematic tools as narrative filmmakers, but also because the documentary genre has been morphing. A mockumentary, with an expert DOP like Baranyai behind the lens, results in one of the standout films of the entire festival.

Reviewed at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).

James Cunningham is the Editor of Australian Cinematographer Magazine.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.