“This No Land” – Alexander Decommere

An old cowboy ‘Grandpa Sudoku’ (Patrick Pevenage) leaves on a trip to Disneyland with the 6 year old Laura (Lisa Lelieur). When  they stop at a gas station, they bump into two couples, who each have their own reason to make the same stop.

This synopsis shortly introduces Alexander Decommere’s western short film (surreal western to be precise) This No Land that made the selection for the Flemish Fiction Competition at the International Short Film Festival in Leuven this year.

Alexander Decommere, known for his documentaries End Credits (2013), Alaturka (2014) and the 2015 short film Where The Pelican Lands, is an experienced director. This No Land proves this fact. The end result is quite impressive, considering that it is shot in both Belgium and the Spanish desert, and crowdfunded.

This No Land has a top of the bill Flemish cast such as Titus De Voogdt (Cub (2014), King of the Belgians (2016)) & Peter Van den Eede (Dirty Mind (2009), Wasteland (2014) as a classy queer couple. Other names are Robrecht Vanden Thoren (Hasta La Vista (2011) and Anne-Laure Vandeputte.
The film has a steady narrative pace, but the dialogues are rather trivial at times unfortunately. But the acting performances are flawless, which adds up to the final result.

Another asset of the film is the remarkable camera work by Jorge Piquer Rodriguez, who achieved to set the right atmosphere for the genre by using wide establishing shots and a symmetric framing for the dialogues.

In my opinion, the narrative is very action-driven, rather than character-driven, which makes the encounters look coincidental. It took me some time to get the story, but eventually I realised that the entire film was a dream sequence. The end pulls us back in the real world by a dramatic climax. This is where all things fit together, like the pieces of a puzzle. Important elements get explained, like for example why they meet the 2 other couples and who the young girl is. Despite the ‘aha’ experience, the main story plot lacks some backstory though.

To conclude, This No Land is satisfying when it comes to visuals, but the plot line could be made more clear. Although it’s typical for short films to have an open ending, here it is mainly vague and incomprehensible for a mainstream audience. Nonetheless, I sincerely liked the concept and the atmosphere.

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