Film reviews

#492 – 5.5.5. (2013)

5.5.5. (2013)

Film review #492

Director: Gustavo Giannini

SYNOPSIS: Gabriel is a philosophy teacher at a night school. A woman named Amnis enrols in his class, who vanishes without a trace after their intimate encounter. Her interest in the artist Benjamin Solari Parravicini, and his art that apparently predicted the future, leads Gabriel to research the artist’s works and unravel just what Parravicini saw in humanity’s future…

THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: 5.5.5. (also known as Prophecy) is a 2013 film from Argentina. In the opening we are introduced to Gabriel, a philosophy teacher who is running a night course at a local school. A new student named Amnis introduces herself, and talks to Gabriel about the art work of Benjamin Solari Parravicini, whose art is printed on her shirt, and apparently predicted the future in his works. After an intimate encounter with her, she vanishes without a trace. Gabriel starts trying to locate her and researching Parravicini’s work, and learns that Parravicini’s predictions have come true, such as predicting the 9/11 terrorist attacks amongst others. He, aided by his cousin Tony, seek to unravel Parravicini’s prophecies and the apparent coming of an apocalyptic event which will strike the Earth in the near-future. The story of the film revolves around piecing together Parravicini’s visions and Gabriel’s developing obsession with them. The premise is pretty interesting, and the mystery surrounding Amnis’ identity and whereabouts is something which will keep viewers intrigued about until the end. There’s a couple of other smaller threads concerning Gabriel’s ex-wife and child, Tony’s schemes and some shady people trying to stop Gabriel unravelling Parravicini’s secrets, but they only really serve to build up different sides of Gabriel’s character. The trouble with the story is it never really gets too interesting: it’s basically Gabriel just doing research. The build-up to an apocalyptic event in the near-future that Parravicini prophesised and Gabriel trying to work out when is a bit more interesting. But ultimately goes nowhere. The film obviously hinges on leaving certain questions open regarding the prophecies and whatnot, but there’s not enough concrete results or a pay-off that is needed to provide a foundation to consider the ambiguity, and it ultimately feels like it leads nowhere. Some of the more interesting aspects like the neighbourhood that apparently distorts sense of time, are one such example that is left open, but is something that would make the story more interesting if it was revealed how it figured into the story.

Perhaps one of the weakest links in the film is the character of Gabriel himself: he just isn’t an interesting lead. It is difficult to empathise with him because he rarely shows his reactions to what is happening. Whether this is down to the acting, or he is intentionally written like that I don’t know. The parts of his character like being a philosophy professor, or being a parent, only figure into the film when absolutely necessary, and otherwise don’t affect his actions. Amnis is an interesting character, and the mystery surrounding her is a good thread that flows through the film, but the reveal only raises more questions: if she was from the future, how did she time travel? Was she a prophecy that Gabriel could see? Just explaining the mechanics of things a little would not ruin the ambiguity I think. The rest of the characters, as mentioned, don’t really come into their own, and only serve to bounce off of Gabriel’s character. Tony as the vaguely “comic relief” character fulfils a very obvious role that doesn’t really fit the serious tone of the film.

The film eventually reaches a point where it turns out that a shadowy organisation has been hoarding Parravicini’s artwork and preventing his prophecies from being found out. A man starts following Gabriel and the stakes get raised, but in the end it just goes nowhere. The ending of the film is also like that, as Gabriel just admits he has lost it and needs help, just before he is seemingly killed by the mysterious man. I am left wondering what the point of it all was: there’s no real conclusion to anything, and the prophetic vision or whatever it is that ends the film comes out of nowhere, and seems like a bland attempt at trying to create an ambiguous ending in a film that is already full of holes. 5.5.5. has some good moments in it’s intriguing and somewhat interesting story, but falters with it’s cast and characters. It’s attempt to create meaning often leaves the story full of gaps, and the unconvincing responses from characters will leave viewers without direction with regards to what to feel. Not a film entirely without merit and perfectly watchable, but you might not get anything out of the experience.