Dutch director Boudewijn Koole evokes Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata in his story about a globetrotting Norwegian photojournalist who returns home to attempt a reconciliation with her mother, a celebrated former concert pianist.
Globetrotting Norwegian photojournalist Roos (Rifka Lodeizen, also star of La Holandesa at this year's Festival) makes her annual visit home to find that, on the surface at least, little has changed. Her mother, Louise (Elsie de Brauw), a celebrated former concert pianist, remains as cold and remote as the wintry alpine landscape she inhabits, while Roos' precocious 13-year-old half-brother, Bengt (Marcus Hanssen), continues to conduct his experiments with sound recording and mixing. Inside Roos, however, a dramatic transformation has transpired, one that urgently demands she reconcile with Louise, no matter how painful the process.
Reminiscent of the chamber dramas of Ingmar Bergman — especially Autumn Sonata from 1978 — the latest from Dutch director Boudewijn Koole (Kauwboy) is arresting in its frankness, intimacy and emotional complexity. Scripted by Jolein Laarman — who wrote TIFF 2014's equally moving Frailer — Disappearance exudes a profound wisdom regarding the myriad ways families can become fixed in their rigid dynamics while life passes mercilessly by.
Yet what is most remarkable about Disappearance is how much of this wisdom goes unspoken. Koole and his collaborators convey much of the film's insight through behaviour, isolated sounds, and images gleaned from the surrounding natural world in all its brutality and beauty.
Featuring courageous, captivating performances from all three of its leads, Disappearance is both sombre and exhilarating, reminding us to live and love fiercely, and to know when to let go.