Review: ‘The Lease’

This intriguing first feature, the work of a former musician turned film director, explores the contempo world of a middle-class, middle-aged woman going through a difficult period. Strikingly photographed pic heralds an interesting future career for the writer-director, but despite considerable qualities, "The Lease" is too minimalist and ultimately too obscure to travel beyond the festival circuit, where it will attract mixed reactions.

This intriguing first feature, the work of a former musician turned film director, explores the contempo world of a middle-class, middle-aged woman going through a difficult period. Strikingly photographed pic heralds an interesting future career for the writer-director, but despite considerable qualities, “The Lease” is too minimalist and ultimately too obscure to travel beyond the festival circuit, where it will attract mixed reactions.

A businesswoman (elegantly played by Larisa Kalpokaite) recovering from a failed relationship leases an apartment unaware that a man living nearby is observing her and her neighbors through binoculars. As she attempts to start a new life, the woman must come to terms with former relationships and friends in ways that are not always easy and which culminate in a confrontation with the voyeur. But, despite the occasional trappings of a thriller, this is not a narrative-driven pic, since the writer-director is more interested in creating a minimalist mood piece, which will frustrate as many viewers as it entrances. Location camerawork in the streets and apartments of Vilnius evocatively captures the mood of a city during a period of change, and technically, the film is sleek in every department.

The Lease

Lithuania

Production

A Studio Uljana Kim, Studio Kinema production. (International sales: Studio Uljana Kim, Vilnius.) Produced by Uljana Kim, Sharunas Bartas. Directed, written by Kristijonas Vildziunas.

Crew

Camera (color), Vladas Naudzius; editors, Ona Dirzyte, Vildziunas; production/costume designer, Agne Rimkute. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing, Upstream), Aug. 31, 2002. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Larisa Kalpokaite, Dalia Micheleviciute, Tomas Tamosaitis, Egle Mikulionyte, Laisvunas Raudonis, Asta Baurute.
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