A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting on Existence

Stony-faced, pallid, and unrelentingly morbid, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is the antidote to every feel-good film you’ve ever seen.

Swedish auteur Roy Andersson introduces the film as “the final part of a trilogy about being human”.

This disquisition is made through a series of absurdist, darkly comic vignettes, peopled by pale-faced grotesques who don’t quite look alive. In this film about existence, the final curtain is always in sight. Andersson puts the dead back into deadpan.

Each scene is meticulously framed and choreographed. With Andersson’s static camera fixed on his superbly drab sets, watching this film can feel like watching a diorama model, a piece of stylised theatre, or a wind up toy.

This is a film that presents problems – in the form of harrowing existential predicaments – rather than solutions.

Its reticence is both wry and horribly serious, registered in the silence that prevails over so many scenes, and the jolting blackouts in between them.

The film gets more surreal and more serious as it wears on, broaching the darkest corners of humanity unsqueamishly.

“I was involved in a horrible thing,” one character tells another near the film’s end, apparently recollecting the previous vignette. You're likely to feel a similar disquieting conviction as the credits rolls: an accusing sense of complicity that clings with the stickiness of a bad dream.

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