In Melodica, a film by Rachel Monosov (b. 1987, St. Petersburg, lives and works in Brussels and Berlin), we perceive a closed world where beauty, architecture and geometry are given equal status to murder, love and philosophical thought. Like the concepts of Oscar Wilde’s portrait story of Dorian Gray, where beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only worthy pursuits of the protagonist, the film’s aesthetics are composed and imbued by painting. The references and events of Melodica are sourced from the painting The Golden Age by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Rachel Monosov leads us into ambiguous and absurd situations, in which we learn to accept and live in this constructed world. The images are beautiful and surreal, forcing the viewer to trust them and allow events to unfold; we gradually accept the weird things that are happening. While the work exposes earthly desires, it simultaneously offers a place where reality cannot enter and feelings of emptiness and melancholy rise slowly to the surface. Melodica’s characters embody Rachel Monosov’s concerns. They are her mirrors as she imposes upon them her train of thought. The image of the self comes into question, as does narcissism when the actress playing Melodica, the film’s protagonist, reflects on her own image during a night scene and becomes aware of the audience. She looks into the camera and calls the cast to come over. “You are a piece of art … Look! They are all there for us. You don’t see?” she whispers.
Where the action is frozen and the meaning ambiguous, Monosov raises existential questions within a rich setting of colours with characters under complete control of the artist. She opens a place for the self to feel, rather than be afraid of, beauty. Precisely because of the contemporary chaos we live in, the artist creates a beautifully detached world through aesthetics, which contains all the pain and anxiety surrounding us.
Director: Rachel Monosov
Cast: Céline Peret, Irina Lavrinovič, Max Croes
Director of Photography: Xavier Van D’Huynslager
Executive Producer: Catinca Tabacaru Gallery, Matthew Evans, Oana Maxwell, Moshe Kon
Production Manager: Vera Herr, Alain Bonnel
Assistant Director: R’m Aharoni
Recording Mixer: Andre Philips
Sound Design & Mix: Rotem Doitcher
Camera Assistants: Nathan Lederman, Pieter-Jan Neirynck
Gaffer: Ken Sody
Costume Designer: Serre Marine
Photographer: Lisa Lapierre, Rachel Gruijters
Music by: Stella Gotshten, Omri Barel, Edwin Huizing, George Lepauw
Colorist: Yoni Passy