This is the third of four Dreyer films that I need to see for the 1001 list – and it’s been nearly five years since the last one. Since I enjoyed both The Passion of Jeanne D’Arc and Ordet, I assumed that the remaining two Dreyer films on the list would also be wins. Especially as Gertrud features highly on many best of film lists – not as high as the other two I’ve seen, but still pretty damned high.
No. This is not what happened. I think that the word that I ended up settling on in order to describe this film is ‘tedious’. My husband described it as a romcom without the com. Either way, this was not the best two hours I have spent watching a movie and is one of the lesser 1001 films that I have seen for a long time – and it really should have worked.
Gertrud is one of those films that should have worked so well for me on paper. However, thee was a gigantic barrier for me and that was just how stilted the acting felt with the combination of a ridiculous abundance of long-shots – which were all centred on either some sort of two-person seat or a piano.
Then there was the extremely weird choice of having none of the characters actually looking at each other. At the beginning I thought it was a choice about Gertrud and her husband literally not seeing eye-to-eye and so as a way demarking their lack of communication. But no, this was something that just permeated the whole film much like a poor Saturday Night Live sketch where everyone is searching for a cue card.
Coupled with this, there is an emotionally stuntedness that every character seems to show. I am not sure whether Gertrud herself is meant to be depressed, detached or have some sort of personality disorder. There is so little affect in her as she leaves her husband, her toy boy and the man who continues to pine for her years after their break-up. Like other than the trophy of having a famous opera singer for a wife, I am not exactly sure what she has been bringing to the relationship… then again I could probably say the same of all the men in this film.
So yes, this was a massive disappointment because of whatever the big disconnect was between myself and the film. I hope that this is a blip and that the final Dreyer film on the list hits the mark for me.