UW Cinematheque's Alain Tanner series wraps up with yet another enigma from the Swiss director. Info
Alain Tanner's first English-language film, 1981's Light Years Away, may or may not be a follow-up to his Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000. The film is vaguely set in time and space enough for viewers to connect these dots, but the screenplay is also based on the novel La Voie Sauvage, by Daniel Odier, so this could just be a huge coincidence.
Like most of the films in UW Cinematheque's Tanner series, which concludes with this screening, Light Years Away is a rare one, so preview screeners were not available. Nevertheless, reviews of the film over time have observed that it shares Tanner's stunning sense of photography, vignette story-telling asserting an optimistic pointlessness, and bleak humor. The apparent protagonist, Jonah, wanders into an apprenticeship with a eccentric old man who has the 20-year-old sorting garbage and burying the old man to his neck in the dirt. While the film took the second-place prize at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, it has been noted to have elements of misogyny in its philosophy of transcendence, and, like most Tanner films, may suffer with mainstream audiences due to its obscurity. I didn't get a chance to judge these aspects of it for myself, but despite these apparent shortcomings, the chance to see a neglected director like Tanner is a rare treat. —Reid Kurkerewicz