“Don’t feel guilty.”
Julius Morlang (Paul Freeman) is a narcissistic artist whose star is waning in the psychological drama Morlang. Fast approaching old age, Morlang is told to try and find new forms of expression, and he sees his latest painting shoved aside for the work of a new, upcoming talent, artist Robert Jansen (Marcel Faber). To complicate matters, Morlang’s wife Ellen (Diana Kent) is asked by Jansen to manage his career, and she’s excited by the prospect. At an art show, Morlang seethes with rage, jealousy and envy at Jansen’s success, but according to Ellen, Morlang is emotionally unfathomable.
Morlang’s tale is told in fragmented flashbacks, and when the film begins, it’s two years later–Ellen is dead, and Julius is now living in Ireland with author Ann (Susan Lynch). The flashbacks begin when Julius receives a telephone message from his dead wife. His remote home is burglarized, and a cryptic note and photograph left behind by the intruder. The mystery of exactly what happened between Morlang and Ellen is revealed via an old grainy videotape, Morlang’s memories, and the footage from a surveillance camera.
Morlang, directed by Tjebbo Penning and loosely based on a true story, presents a fascinating look at an artist who uses the women in his life as his muses to salvage his creative process and his dying career. The camera is put to extremely clever use here as the tale weaves back and forth in time, and in several scenes the leap back in time is virtually seamless. In one shot for example, Morlang and his wife exit the door of their Irish home, and then Ann steps back into the house through the same door. These camera shots effectively kaleidoscope time and simultaneously emphasize that past events sometimes remain in the present. As an added bonus, the footage of the Irish coast is spectacular. Morlang is from the Global Film Series, and it’s a film series well-worth looking for.