CPH:DOX /To Stay Alive – A Method


If you are a fan of either Michel Houellebecq or Iggy Pop or both: read no further and go and see this film immediately. For those of us who is something less than a dedicated fan (I’m more of a Tom Waits and Haruki Murakami kind of guy myself) there is, however, plenty of reasons to watch this “feelgood movie about suffering” as the front credits say.

I’m not going to tell you the narrative since there isn’t really any, except towards the ending: Iggy is coming to visit Houellebecq (who here is called Vincent) and after a truly spellbinding and kind of nuts dialogue scene, Vincent is showing Iggy Pop to his basement where he has built or created… something. It’s wonderfully staged, and just watching their faces, bodies and clothing are priceless. One look nerdier that the other, in their own way.

Beside the scene mentioned above, the film consists of Iggy Pop reading or reciting the words of Houellebecq in different settings and the crew’s visits to three somewhat unfortunate souls who all suffer or have suffered from different form of poor mental health. They also express themselves in poems (some recited by Iggy Pop) and other art forms but somehow the essayistic form of the film lacks the ability to really grab you in all the scenes. Maybe the staging gets too evident or too pointless with camera trackings and other visual means and maybe there just IS too much text after all.

However, the film grows on you after watching it, and you have never seen a film about creative force and mental illness just like this. And as “Vincent” says I my favourite scene: “Art shouldn’t be a movement”. Luckily, Iggy Pop – who you could argue was part of the punk music movement – agrees in the most self-ironic way. I want to watch that scene again…

Erik Lieshout a.o.: “To Stay Alive – A Method”, 2016. Seen at CPH:DOX. Filmkommentaren: 4/6 penheads


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Mikkel Stolt
Mikkel Stolt
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