Directed by music video and commercials director Platon Theodoris, Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites is a bizarre mix of comedy, drama, road movie and magical realism. Theodoris was inspired by a regular drop-in meditation class at a Buddhist Centre, an obsessive-collective partner Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics and his intense provocateur father. Made with privately raised funds, it was shot in Sydney, Kalgoorlie and Jakarta, places which themselves are inherently opposite.
Tormented by a borderline crazy neighbour, the beautiful girl downstairs and the walls of his own apartment, Alvin’s life is full of contradictions. He proclaims happiness with his situation, though we see his discomfort. He attempts to keep normal work and social life going through the illusion of company via Skype, but the audience see him as truly alone.
We realise Alvin is odd from the very beginning, but as time goes on we see how seemingly small things irritate and annoy him. In his relationship with various characters, it’s clear he’s not really sure who he is. With his colleague via Skype, he’s very formal, almost normal. With his friend, he attempts a casual chat, despite his friend’s evident concern about his reclusive habits. With his neighbour Virginia, he is very timid. There is a small cast of characters, yet each one is distinct and works to show “an opposite” of Alvin. We soon realise through these other people surrounding Alvin that he really doesn’t engage with life, sees it through holes and watches from a distance.
The mis-en-scene is meticulous and in fact highlighted, with close up shots peppering the story to emphasise what Alvin places around him. British royal family memorabilia, antique milk jugs, indoor clotheslines, collectable spoons and pandas, just to name a few. The colour scheme is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film. All of this emphasises what we have gathered – that Alvin is rather bizarre. The soundtrack was very well curated and works very well with the story, playing off the oddities we see visually.
Odd moments suggest that Alvin’s reality is a little blurred, which can create confusion as the audience. His escape into a dark space with a spotlight on him shows his disconnect with the world, which is challenged by the film’s end. Alvin’s frustration with the brown sludgy liquid oozing down his walls means he finally leaves his apartment through the ceiling for a short time, the first sign that Alvin might begin to change. He is eventually forced to engage with life outside his small comfort zone and confront his insecurities when he is transported to another confusing and foreign world, a world where it turns out that he is the focus.
Most of the time, we remain in the realm of confusion with Alvin, peppered by moments of humorous clarity. This unpredictable and unique plot means that Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites is constantly engaging and enjoyable to watch as we join Alvin on his intense journey of self-exploration.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites screens on Sunday, September 20th at 5pm as part of the Sydney Uground Film Festival. For more details about the film and to get your hands on tickets, head here: http://suff.com.au/schedule/alvins-harmonious-world-of-opposites/