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Review | Viveiro – Allegorical Terror with Brushstrokes by Kafka and Magritte Debuts on Amazon Prime Video

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Admirers of the series The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), the Irish Lorcan Finnegan and Garret Shanley designed Viveiro (Vivarium) to disconnect us from reality and transport us straight to purgatory of a life very similar to ours, but without the privilege of free will. Launched at the Cannes Film Festival 2019 and available on VOD in March, the work interpreted by Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots is an allegory on the illusions of family happiness and brings us back to the novel The Process (1925), by Franz Kafka.

Through the opening scene, in which a hungry bird forcefully and cruelly drives its peers out of the nest, the production already communicates to the viewer its goal of leaving them in an uncomfortable environment. Like the emblematic character Joseph K., imprisoned in an endless trial for an unspecified crime, the couple Gemma (Poots) and Tom (Eisenberg) do not know the reasons for their misfortune.

The essence of the story, however, is not to explain them, but to confront us with the experience of each of them on this journey. The couple arrive at a real estate agency and are greeted by agent Martin (Jonathan Arisa), with a horrifying smile and devoid of social relations, that is to say, one could compare him to an incredible Sheldon Cooper, from The Big Bang Theory. Immediately, the couple are taken to visit the Yonder residential space and they are introduced to a repeating endless array of identical green houses with parks on the porch.

From the beginning, the decoration of the house is strange and they react with aversion and derision. To complete the unusual atmosphere, Martin disappears without a trace and the neighborhood remains completely silent. Without hesitation, they both get in the car on their way back to town. However, after driving for hours and always finding the same houses, the gasoline runs out and the exit becomes inaccessible.

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From this moment, you have to look at the work with a touch of suspicion and curiosity, equivalent to that of the protagonists. After a few escape attempts, they are given a box of groceries and later a baby, which reveals them to be prisoners of someone or something incomprehensible. As in Kafka’s novel, Finnegan and Shanley lead us to look beyond the plane of images and to make an effort to interpret the symbology.

With a minimalist composition, the narrative force is supported by the expressiveness of Imogen Poots, which is one of the most eminent works of the actress. She works like a pendulum between remaining human or being seduced into madness, especially in scenes like her supposed son (Senan Jennings). In this situation, the three sitting at the breakfast table pervert the photographic playfulness of the family make-up, since the boy is a horrifying amplification of a child’s development through parental habits, in this case, prisoners that surround it.

Following the same path of surrealism in the works of Charlie Kaufman (I Want to be John Malkovich [1999]Synecdoche of New York [2018]anomaly [2015]), Viveiro throws a couple into a nightmare of service to an invisible dictator. In a more primitive case, it is possible to contemplate that this is exactly the life the two were looking for when they entered this residence. Elements of reality with traces of fantasy, or rather, surreal compositions, are beautiful to our eyes and intrigue the logic present in everyday life, like a painting by the Belgian artist René Magritte.

With excellent art direction, Viveiro favors aesthetics over a simple message, yet open to interpretation: whether it’s the nightmare of suburban life for millennials, or the education of children. Indeed, the elements Lorcan Finnegan paints terrify and entertain, keeping the viewer captivated by the allegorical fascination of allegorical purgatory, in addition to playing with the questions presented in It Was Only a Dream (2008) and American Beauty (1999).

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