Film review: About Endlessness (12A)

About Endlessness a film by Roy Andersson

About Endlessness a film by Roy Andersson - Credit: Archant

Roy Andersson’s latest is all filler, no killer, but its refined vision is a pure distillation of humanity.

About Endlessness a film by Roy Andersson

About Endlessness a film by Roy Andersson - Credit: Archant

The opposing worlds of High Art and Light Entertainment mesh seamlessly in the films of Roy Andersson.

Over his previous three films - Songs From The Second Floor/You, The Living/A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting On Existence - he has created a world of glory that mixes Tommy Cooper-style failed magic tricks and atrocities.

He reduces people to caricatures but finds in them great depths of humanity. Though his films are plotless and made up of long, static takes they are approachable and fun; they deal with loneliness and despair, genocide and historical guilt, but are funny and kind.

Set in an unidentified Scandanavian city, an Andersson film is made up of a series of vignettes. These are mostly unconnected, though a few characters, themes and lines of dialogue will reappear. Everything is filmed on sets, in a pale muted colour scheme. The characters are usually down-on-their-luck middle-aged men.

About Endlessness is more of the same, only less so. Immediately we are back in his familiar whiter-shade-of-pale world, but with less comedy and almost no connection between the scenes.

Also, this doesn’t have any of the striking set pieces his previous films were famous for: there’s no equivalent of the army of a 19th King stopping off in a modern-day cafe for a drink on its way to the battlefield, or the rock star’s honeymoon in which his new house moves on railway tracks into a station where adoring fans offer their best wishes. About Endlessness is made up entirely of the smaller, quieter scenes, the filler of his previous films.

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When the Making Of documentary Being A Human Person was released before this, I thought we were having our expectations managed, that excuses were being got in early. The short running time raised fears of a talent that had exhausted itself. And that may be the case; for half an hour I was greatly disappointed. After that I found myself adapting to the new scale. Endlessness is all filler, no killer, but maybe this refined vision was what he was working towards all along: a pure distillation of humanity.

5/5 stars

Go to for a review of Arrow Academy Blu-ray release of Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky and Busby/ Shankly/ Stein documentary The Three Kings.