Opus Zero is an interesting meditation on memory, grief and what remains. This is debut full length feature from writer/director by Daniel Graham.
This film is a slow burner in the very sense of the phrase and is split into two halves. Whatever Graham was attempting to do in part two didn’t work. It felt like a different film altogether. The first half really is very interesting and there are phrases in the film that really captures the audience’s imagination: “silence is not the absence of sound”. Too often there are films which don’t treat an audience as intelligent, this film does. The script is quite thin in terms of plot but dialogue heavy. We never see the father or really understand the quest that the son is on, there is a context missing. Central to the plot I suspect although not fully explored is the fact that the son, Paul (Willem Dafoe), is a composer and he poses the question whether a symphony ever ends or can we keep reinterpreting and reinterpreting? In the same way that a symphony is reinterpreted by others, can a person’s life to be reinterpreted after a passage of time – the film doesn’t really explore this because of the disjointed second half.
Willem Dafoe makes this film and is what captures the imagination. I certainly want to see more from Daniel Graham but he should steer clear of the two part script and just tell the story he wants to tell. The one or estranged child, trying to hear what he couldn’t listen to when his father is alive.
Is it diverse?
Yes, it is. Silence is often flirted with especially in films about loss but the converse is never explored. This film attempts doesn’t quite succeed but leaves a lot to think about. It sometimes tries too hard to be interesting. Where this film fails is that it doesn’t really explore the secondary characters by giving them more than two minutes of screen time.
If you like films where the images and language wash over you then this is a film for you. The phrasing of sentences is crucial here and so is an attention to detail which is often overlooked in commercial films. If that doesn’t sound appealing perhaps wait for the dvd.
Opus Zero is released in UK cinemas on 9 August.