Overview: Chasing the Wind follows an Italian mortician through the motions of her job and her daily life.
Made with Care: Chasing the Wind is meticulously made. Of that, there is no doubt. Each shot is thoughtful and deliberate, careful to squeeze every potential drop of beauty out of the object being filmed, whether it’s a woman’s thoughtful eyes, a picturesque landscape, or a long-dead gas-bloated corpse. Director Filippo Ticozzi does an astounding job of reminding viewers that there is the potential for beauty in everything in life, if only we look at it through the proper lens. Shot from the right angles, in the right light, everything is art. Still, it’s not enough.
A Hollow Film: Rarely have I seen such a gorgeous film that still managed to underwhelm me. Sadly, beneath the intimate, lovingly, and patiently shot scenes, there is little else to see. Like going on a dinner date with a beautiful but vapid partner, Chasing the Wind’s aesthetically pleasing visuals might be enough for a while, but they can’t sustain the entire film. Chasing the Wind is ultimately a hollow film, devoid of meaning, message, or genuine character study. And with a subject as interesting as a mortician, that’s a frustrating thing. If this film had anything to say about its subject, I didn’t pick up on it. And believe me, I looked for meaning. I looked at every turn. I so wanted to love this film. But I just couldn’t do it. I need something more, another layer that runs deeper than the surface visual.
Maybe It’s Just Me: Of course, it is possible (as it always is with film criticism) that part of the blame for my disappointment lies with me. Does a movie have to explore deeper themes? Does it have to dissect its character and reveal information that isn’t clear on the surface? Is it enough that it’s lovely to look at? That it’s lovingly made? I don’t know, but for me, no, I don’t think so. For some, it might be. I want to connect, to feel as if I know a character, to feel as if I’ve walked away knowing a little bit more than I did before. But everyone doesn’t think this way, and if you’re fine with merely enjoying aesthetics for a bit, certainly watch this film.
In the end: For its visual work alone, Chasing the Wind is still worth your time, but don’t go in as I did, hoping for explorations of major themes such as life and death. You won’t get them.
This film and countless others will be screening at the 18th annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in downtown Durham, North Carolina from April 9-12. Tickets are available online.