Catalan filmmaker Jose Luis Guerin’s smart, darkly funny ninth feature, “The Academy of Muses,” (L’Accademia delle Muse) is a poetic parallel to his best-known film, 2007’s “In the City of Sylvia.” Thoughts and gesture are equally elusive, yet accrue with lyrical force in this playful outing. And words, so many words: as if Kiarostami’s visual directness were to be mingled with the sly force of Rohmer’s loquacity. Documentary and fiction blur in a portrait of a middle-aged philology professor (Raffaele Pinto, who is a philology professor) and the conversations he has about love and the ferocity of passion with the women in his life, including his wife and students. Faux doc? Improvised narrative? This romance of language is hyper-heightened intellectual discourse, to be sure, but also supple and seductive. Often static, the images nonetheless glow from within, lustrous, in love with the speaker, more in love with the listener, face turned this way or that. 92m. (Ray Pride)
“The Academy of Muses” opens Friday, December 9 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.