JULY 18, 2023
Among the great themes of artistic modernity, loneliness is perhaps one of the most popular subjects approached by filmmakers. Regardless if we speak about the loneliness caused by an (auto)imposed exile specific to a character such as the protagonist of 'The Perfume', about the loneliness while being a part of a couple, like in 'American Beauty', or about the loneliness imposed by futuristic alienated societies, like in 'Her', this theme is still very tempting for the current creators. Adopting the loneliness of the ordinary individual who escapes into illusory universes through sexual fetishes, 'The Pleasures of the Gloves' is an expressive experimental short film about the uncontrolled madness that dominates the mind and the imagination of the small anonymous living in the big urban agglomerations. Director Duane Michals proposes through his project a succinct insight into the compulsive-erotic fantasies of two persons, a man and a woman interacting by chance, adopting a contrasting tone that oscillates between irony / cynicism and tenderness to create a bizarre, absurd, almost surrealist atmosphere, in which objects are substitutes for pleasure and interhuman contact.
When he sees a pair of black leather gloves in a shop window, the man continues his daily activity as a taxi driver, until a woman who gets into his car involuntarily triggers his erotic obsessions. As he leads her to the destination, the man looks at his client in the rear-view mirror, while she caresses her breasts with her gloved hand. The visual impact of the black leather glove that touches the skin of the breasts haunts the man who begins to have more and more intense illusions with a giant glove that chases him everywhere he goes.
Condensing only in a few sequences the history of an erotic obsession around a fetish object, director Duane Michals creates his project in an unconventional manner, without opting for a consistent verbal interaction. Not by accident, the biggest plus of this short film is the proportion of images, the chromatic balance, the structural harmony of short frames that are rendered by a variety of techniques, such as tracking shots, objective perspective, close-ups and details that dynamize the alienation process of the main character who is tired of the platitude of the world he lives in.
Indeed, in this fictional universe there is a suffocating monotony that consumes the soul of protagonist condemned to a trivial existence that the director depicts at the acoustic level through acapella songs, background noise or step sounds, describing the male character’s attempts to overcome the rigidity of objective reality. However, 'The Pleasures of the Glove' is neither a banal, unemotional cinematic experiment, nor a predictable short film about the hidden desires of the individual, but an intelligent and non-conformist project conceived as a metaphor about the intimacy and emotional fragility of those who continue to live alone in the midst of the big cities’ agitation.
Review written by Andrei C. Serban