Below Sea Level (2008)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA/Italy, 2008.  .  Cinematography by Gianfranco Rosi.  Produced by Gianfranco Rosi.  Film Editing by .  

Approximately two hundred miles outside of Los Angeles is a barren landscape where people have to come to live a lawless existence, sleeping in their cars or trailers and eking out an existence for themselves without running water or electricity.  In most cases they have fallen from higher stations in life, but as one member of the community explains, you show up and you ask no questions;  the people who know things about each other do so after a long time spent in each other’s company.

Rosi, who lived in this community with his subjects for a number of years, focuses on a group of people and among them are a woman who has lost her money in a custody battle following a divorce, a beautician who was once a man in the navy but has now found a place where she can live as the woman she longs to be, the unforgettable “insane Wayne” whose seeming madness actually hides the heart of a poet, and the heartbreak of a woman called “Bulletproof” and the sad story behind her title.

It’s a harsh movie, featuring Rosi’s penchant for long, quiet takes that scorch the screen, the emphasis on figures in isolation saying more about their daily life than anything they relate verbally.

European Film Award Nomination:  Best European Documentary


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