Monrovia, a small rural Midwest town in the heart of the United States. Far from East and West coasts in perpetual mutations. Here, the fields of wheat, the peaceful black cows, the farm misted with the dust of agricultural labor seem from another time of the representation. On the benches of the church, few faithful, but all are convinced that the creation of God is perfect. In high school, the first class photos date back to the 1920s. A proselyte teacher strives to transmit to students the worship of school basketball, glory of the state of Indiana. Outside, teenage girls are rehearsing in costume the next festive show. In front of the clapboards of a white house, a garage sale spreads out his everyday objects. The café is called the "Café du coin". Old friends discuss the pains and evils of age, count funerals, remember the lost youth, tree genealogies of memory. They recall in their own way that family films portray death at work and re-enter it into life. Frederick Wiseman adds to the forty films he has made since 1957 a new cartography. He observes under a microscope the daily life of a microcosm. It keeps the viewer in the present of what he discovers. Here he retires one of his combinations of chances and deliberate choices, signing the magnificent singularity of the dialectic which unites the purpose and the device.
Poetry embraces existence, comic and tragic, banality
Frederick Wiseman's sensitive capture, his celebration of everyday life revealed by multiple details fuel the feeling of reality. It bypasses the narrative by an assembly of elements that will build a narrative of reality. Wherever he carries his wandering camera, his effacement of filmmaker, the rhythm and its arrangements compose a polyphony. The inhabitants of Monrovia appear to us under this same look, which does not judge, but imposes itself in every situation the requirements of accuracy. As in At Berkeley or Ex Libris, the New York Public Library, Frederick Wiseman spares vast spaces in places of meetings, collective deliberations of decisions. The city seeks its balance between preservation of the traditions charged with the declared values of the United States, "Faith, Family, Country", and an expansion more or less well lived. Urban expansion of subdivisions, welcoming new residents or defending them, the voices of the debaters are absorbing our attention. The crossings of arguments come to us according to cinematographic modalities which confuse the spectator of his ready-made ideas. A Masonic lodge, the only pizzeria that delivers at home, the rituals of the barber, the school, ceremonies of weddings and funerals, the territory deploys its ways of life. Ammonia fertilizers are applied to crops. The card reveals its facets. Wiseman gives pride to the metaphors, cuts a blue sky, takes the flight of a ribbon gone for a walk between the tombs. The cascade of grain grains borders on abstraction. The great landscape emerges as sensory epiphanies.
The generosity of the look, his poetry embraces the existence, the comic and the tragic, the banality. We know what the United States is carrying arms. The Monrovia Armory's visit takes us away from clashes and fractures. From the placid armorer, from his familiar customers, the distances adjust. Wiseman helps us think, precious gift. A married couple is given two crosses that marry. That of the man traces a firm quadrature. That of the woman, all ornamented volutes, will come to be embedded under this shelter, a pledge of eternal happiness. Citizens devote themselves to the arduous search for the common good in this town that administrations neglect, emblematic yet pioneering values professed. Wiseman changes the linearity of time. It transforms it into intermittences of variable lengths, such as its mosaic montage, which is recomposed at the end of its connections and associations. A long and rich sequence covers Shirley's funeral oration by a pastor worthy of a Frank Capra actor. The film completes the circularity of the cycle of life. The end is not a completion. To be continued.