From the mid-1970s till 2013, Angela Ricci Lucchi and Yervant Gianikian, companions in life and artwork, solid an analytical cinematic mode during which they critiqued Western practices of warfare, colonialism, objectification and extra. Their work is best recognized within the artwork and educational realms than in mainstream cinematic ones. Lucchi died in 2018, and Gianikian assembled this movie as a memorial.
While the film might hardly be referred to as mainstream, it’s extra standard than the same old Lucchi-Gianikian work as a result of it’s a singular private musing reasonably than a painstakingly researched assemblage.
Its contents are because the title advertises. A digital camera above a desk reveals one among Lucchi’s open diaries. Gianikian says, on the soundtrack, “I’ll read from Angela’s diary,” then declares the date of the entry. He reads, and the movie cuts to home-video footage from the interval mentioned, typically the precise day, typically somewhat earlier than or after.
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The daily life of these peripatetic artists often looks cozy — bourgeois even. There are a lot of boozy dinners with colleagues and comrades that are indistinguishable in most respects from boozy dinners with well-behaved adults who aren’t artists.
Footage they shot on a 1996 trip to Sarajevo is considerably more tense and affecting. The couple’s guides, speaking English, navigate a car through the city, ruined by the ethnic wars of the ’90s. The sight of modern apartment buildings that were reduced to hollow husks in the long siege is chilling. The guides point out snipers’ perches, and when the visitors venture outside the cars, they have to tread carefully to avoid land mines. A drive to a new border of Bosnia and Croatia ends on an eerie, mysterious, tragic note. There, the filmmakers are greeted by a couple of pylons partially blocking the way forward, one or two parked cars and an atmosphere of stillness topped with confusion and dread. Nothing to do but turn around.
Back home in Milan, after celebrating a retrospective of their work, Lucchi settles into nonfilm projects, creating a scrolling watercolor painting concerning her experiences in Russia and with Russian literature. The pleasures of home and hearth are conveyed in sequences featuring homemade wine and showing Lucchi cultivating her vegetable and fruit garden. She also recounts more harrowing events, including an accident in which Gianikian was severely burned.
As this movie tells it, Lucchi’s life was her work, and her work was an inextricable collaboration with Gianikian. The diaries yield, in this presentation, no uncomfortable intimacies or expressions of doubt regarding any projects. “Angela’s Diaries” asks of the viewer a kind of patience that may only reside in those already conversant with the couple’s contributions, but its tenderness and straightforwardness are immediately admirable.