Grief, Sight, and Sound in Point and Line to Plane

by Liam Williams

Grief and its fallout are such visceral feelings that it can be extreme to portray convincingly in a film. Point and Line to Plane manages to cover the spectrum of grief’s manifestations by creating a surreal atmosphere, evoking nostalgia and examining the longing nature of art and creation through the lens
of a grieving filmmaker.

“What at first seems irregular and hard to accept becomes ambient and the viewer naturally adjusts to this new experience.

The sound in Point and Line to Plane resembles the chaotic stream of thought that grief provokes. The first sound we hear is this deep, droning piece of score which persists throughout the film with subtle tweaks. What at first seems irregular and hard to accept becomes ambient and the viewer naturally adjusts to this new experience. When so much of this film involves us looking through the perspective of “Audrey”’s endless days staring at art pieces and shooting empty streets through her camera, having this sound juxtapose the relatively tame imagery allows us to feel Audrey’s internal struggle ourselves. It’s a sound that’s ringing and is eternal in our ears. The conflict between the soundscape and the locations creates this unusual atmosphere that I found to be hypnotic.

The other source of sound in the film is protagonist Audrey’s narration. In an interview with Nicolas Fedoroff, Bohdanocwicz noted that the script was an evolution of a letter she wrote when her friend passed away. The result is a voice over that is sombre yet reminiscent. You can hear the moments where Audrey’s voice pitches as if she longs to laugh or cry but is just stuck in this feeling of stasis. For example, three and a half minutes into the film she brings up how Jack owned a bulk food store. The subtle jolt from the monotone delivery on this anecdotal comment presents the idea that the loss is fresh, that the memories hurt more than heal still.

The film being based on Bohdanocwicz’ personal experience, the choices of format used both in terms of the film’s creation and by Audrey in the text have aesthetics that present how the grief is being dealt with. In the text Audrey shoots on a Bolex camera. The choice to note how she was scared to shoot on the street and chose to shoot through her apartment window instead could reflect a sense of denial. Audrey even comments on how the sounds of the street become phantom-like, almost as if she’s hoping to catch Jack’s ghost. Describing the city as, “existing and pulsating as if beyond”, further plays into the idea that Audrey is using her camera to see a different world to the one she is in.

The footage of Audrey walking through the streets towards the end of the film was shot on iPhones and filmed through screens on 16mm film. This is the only shot we have from her perspective that truly places us in the real world from her perspective. The roughness that naturally comes with handheld iPhone footage combined with the film grain as well as the quality loss from filming on a screen creates a distortion that encapsulates Audrey’s disdain for the real world at this stage of her grief. Audrey is walking fast and the camera is jittery. Audrey is not comfortable in the real world. What's most telling about this shot is how it's approximately fifteen seconds long. The narration over it being “I wanted to call him back and never did” is a conscious choice from Bohdanocwicz that further adds to the fearful imagery and is a suggestion of a feeling of guilt from Audrey. In just this tiny shot, Bohdanocwicz manages to project the mysterious and uncertain perspective of the world and one’s own actions that grief creates.

“Audrey acknowledges that Jack will always exist in memories or art she thinks he’d like.”

Art is persistent throughout the film, but the final scene really hammers home the longing nature of the beholder’s eye when it comes to the interpretation of art. Audrey is framed in all white against a plain white wall which creates allusions of heaven. In artist Kadinsky’s description of this painting, he stated that “a person that is standing in the midst of steam is not close or far away, He is somewhere.” Audrey simply longs to know that Jack is out there somewhere. The line, “I opened my eyes and I saw”, reflects this idea. Audrey acknowledges that Jack will always exist in memories or art she thinks he’d like. This notion suggests that there is finally some sort of acceptance from Audrey. This is where this film ends.

Point and Line to Plane is something that could only be created by someone that was going through what Bohdanocwicz’ was. This film has given me an idea on how all-consuming grief can be more vividly than any conversation could.

Directed by Sofia Bohdanowicz.

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