Review: Slow (2023 Sundance Film Festival)

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Title: Slow
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Marija Kavtaradze
Starring: Greta Grinevičiūtė, Kestutis Cicenas, Pijus Ganusauskas
Runtime: 1 Hr 47 Mins

What It Is: A sign language interpreter named Dovydas (Cicenas) and an interpretive dancer named Elena (Grinevičiūtė) meet and are instantly attracted to each other. There’s just one problem, Dovydas is asexual and Elena is sexually promiscuous. The two form a bond and relationship but find themselves navigating this major factor as their love grows. Insecurities rise and slowly but surely begin to threaten the stability of their partnership. Will their budding love be enough to overcome this fundamental difficulty or is their romance doomed to fail?

What We Think: Positives first. The acting is very realistic. Both leads give convincing, understated performances. A simple look carries more than the dialogue does and they both can speak more with their eyes than their words. Almost the entirety of the movie solely focuses on the two actors and they both make the characters feel like real people. The film itself is shot with a very grainy film look that gives it almost a liminal, fever-dream-like quality at times. This paired with the music are things the movie absolutely has going for it. I personally also very much enjoyed Kestutis Cicenas’ performance as Dovydas. He had this subtle sense of humor about him which made him very charming to watch.
Those were the good qualities of this film.

First things first, the film lives up to the title. Slow indeed. It is a film that moves along very slowly and feels like days in the lives of people, to a point of being boring. It is also too subtle. I felt less like I was watching a movie and more like just watching real-life, somewhat dull events with the same two people. The same two people who a majority of the time felt too close to the camera. Granted, I think the movie was going for an understated approach, but it felt far too understated. In terms of storytelling, the conflict was too subtle and when the conflict finally did rise full force to the surface, it almost seemed unconvincing. Unfortunately, I did not find myself getting too terribly invested in the characters. Their relationship never quite felt genuine to me and I never bought that they were really all that into each other. A love story doesn’t necessarily need big, loud arguments or fiery throws of passion, or even lots of dialogue, but there needs to be something that makes it a captivating watch or even that makes me want the two characters to fall in love. There was no point in the film that I felt like Dodyvas and Elena were more than slightly attracted to one another. To be subtle is one thing, to be dull is another entirely. The film for its runtime feels like it sleepily goes from one subtle plot point to the next and at points where it seemed like there should be tension, I honestly couldn’t care less what was happening.

Our Grade: C-, Unfortunately, I did not care for this movie very much. It was way too subtle and dull for me. It does seem like a stylistic choice to have everything completely understated and none of the dialogue being over a certain volume, but I prefer a movie with much more range. Nothing in the story is bad and the actors definitely worked with what they had, but it was just unimpressive and didn’t make me feel anything other than boredom. Slow is a slow picture and at least what you see is what you get. Don’t expect anything more from it, though.

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