Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival. For more information on the festival visit viff.org and follow VIFF on Twitter at @viffest.
O, Brazen Age is Alexander Carson’s personal tribute to cinema and literature. A highly referential film with much extra-textual gesticulation, Carson’s intellectual script is simultaneously its greatest strength and weakness. Replete with literary influence, from dialogue prose to narrative development, the film presents a wealth of culture within an otherwise contemporary existential script. This abundance of information, however, provides O, Brazen Age with perhaps too much to digest. As some of the literary references require outside knowledge, much of the film’s themes and intentions may be lost within Carson’s idiosyncratic rhythm, one which demands attention but which may not engage viewers outside of the-know.
Faithful to its script, and using mostly non actors, Carson intended to make a genuine film of hope, forgiveness, new beginnings, enmity, and violence, amongst other things. It is a chronicle of moments between long-time friends who remain loving in spite of their dysfunctions. O, Brazen Age first and foremost references King Lear and the Tempest, while simultaneously providing a romanticization of the past. The characters regularly speak about their histories together, with nearly each character presenting some kind of personal history, which is shown using flashbacks and voice-over. While plagued by their memories, these characters find solace in their affections of one another, which helps to deal with the added stress of the future and pains of the past, a threat which Carson symbolizes through the motif of a gun.
Though highly literary, O, Brazen Age is effectively cinematic, using techniques such as montage, filtered lighting, and slow motion in order to transcend the otherwise limited function of literature. It artistically utilizes an episodic structure, which is made tangible in its separation of chapters, a technique used to clear the film of convolution. Unfortunately, the films’ chapter headings are about as vain as the characters’ struggles to find meaning; instead of offering a clear vision of separate undertakings, the chapter titles only serve to complicate the already thorny script.
To counter the film’s rather tenuous bond, however, are religious and thematic undertones which aptly serve its atmosphere. The film’s somewhat loose and unencumbered narrative find resolve in its singular vision and display of cathartic self-reflection, represented by the character of a young innocent virgin. While certain notions or language may seem unclear or even contradictory, Carson’s intimate and spirited journey of self-discovery is both accessible and meaningful, inspiring in the viewer a sincere feeling of purpose.
While certain notions or language may seem unclear or even contradictory, Carson’s intimate and spirited journey of self-discovery is both accessible and meaningful, inspiring in the viewer a sincere feeling of purpose.