Three-for-One: Traffic (2000), Dancer in The Dark (2000), Petite Maman (2021)

Traffic (2000) — ★★★½

Traffic is the culmination of Stephen Soderberg’s short attention span filmmaking coming together beautifully to tell the wide scope of the Mexican-to-American drug pipeline. The editing is outstanding, showing all stages of the drug trade and how it impacts every network, and institution and funnels down to the innocent. It presents drugs as easily accessible and incredibly destructive in every facet. It’s the system of hypocrisy in the lackluster agencies in the face of massive cartels without a government to comply with.

Petite Maman (2021) — ★★★½

When Celine Sciamma isn’t out making epic love stories, she occupies her time with quaint little hour-long pictures that focus on one or two themes and builds the story around children. Petite Maman is the best of her working in that environment and relates the genuine, overbearing spirit of Nelly (Gabrielle Sanz) through the eye-level perspective, giving audiences an insight into how Nelly experiences the world. This extends to her summer away from her mother, reconciling the loss of her grandma and the need to become closer to her broken mother. 

We see this desire for connection in Nelly’s manifestation of her mother building her fort as an eight-year-old. She not only meets a young girl that at first only resembles her mother, and befriends her in an unconscious desire to better understand her family, but the relationship is much deeper. The question remains on whether or not Nelly’s fantasies are indeed real or fake, but as the story continues, we receive evidence that proves Nelly is operating through time.

Dancer in the Dark (2000) — ★★★½

It’s strictly a Bjork vehicle but morphs into a stark socio-political film about the nature of the death penalty. It’s often messily put together, and LVT has trouble directing and shooting musical pieces, but it has something to say about the world in which we live. Bjork’s music adds a much-needed layer to a rather dry-looking film. Catherine Deneuve, and Bjork give good performances, not amazing but enough to convey the thematic meanings. 

Contrary to other LVT films, Dancer in the Dark isn’t a detached piece of fiction. It’s very much imbued with the spirit of Bjork’s character and idealistic outlook makes it more involved in the ethos. But truthfully, the engagement with the character study of Bjork’s timidity loses the element of LVT’s style that I love most. His gratuitous nature. It’s still there in spurts, but not in the oppressive way that makes up the atmosphere in most of his filmography


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