Boston Baltic Film Festival Dispatch #2: Neon Spring, Tree of Eternal Life

The Boston Baltic Film Festival runs from Friday, 3/3 through Sunday, 3/5 at the Emerson Paramount Center, and through 3/19 virtually. Click here for the schedule and ticket info, and watch the site for Joshua Polanski’s continuing coverage!

Neon Spring is the perfect title for Matīss Kaža’s latest young adult apocalypse. Keenly skeptical of all things ephemeral, Laine (Marija Luīze Meļķe) is a bystander in her own changing and unstable life. Her life slowly unravels as she flirts with the dubstep and neon-lit Riga rave scene, and although no one forces her into the scene, she very clearly doesn’t want to be there. Romances come and go; parents fail in their responsibilities; and her brother, Budzis (Timotejs Pelle Kalnins), whom she cares deeply for, has some growing pains of his own. Laine and her perpetually slumped shoulders stand out in a rave scene typically defined by hedonistic stimuli. Fortunately for Laine, and undermining the meteorological skills of Punxsutawney Phil, winter doesn’t last forever.

Laine’s world is littered with literal and metaphorical noise. She can’t unplug from the world around her, nor can she manage to remove her earbuds. It’s in this context that, in the film’s best but most tragic scene, noise portends as an omen for pending ignominy. At a shitty excuse for a party, as Laine is drugged out and socializing while illegally in a stranger’s home, a non-diegetic digital hum (or noise) lays over the verisimilar sound. Something sounds wrong. The unwelcome cricket-like backdrop makes the viewer uneasy without really knowing why. Avoiding spoilers, it’s enough to say the sonic world stops making sense long before the film’s images reveal the horrible reason why. It’s my favorite use of sound design in a 2022 film. 

Continue reading at the Boston Hassle.

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