The Brothers Quay are brilliant artists whose body of work, both their puppet films and live action feature Institute Benjamenta, stands as one of the great achievements in cinema. While their new piece In Absentia does not ultimately compare to past masterpieces such as Street of Crocodiles and Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, it's still a remarkable film that will move the viewer with its hermetic beauty.
A combination of live action and puppet animation, In Absentia details the attempts of a woman to write a letter from within the cracked, faded walls of an asylum, her progress as glacially slow as the movement of the stars. She is doomed to endlessly repeat the steps and be forever left speechless in her cell, while outside a wasteland of waring light and dark reflects her despair.
With a gorgeous score by K. Stockhausen, the film at times feels ever so slightly music video-esque, and one wonders if without the well regarded composer's music it would fall apart rather quickly. But although a lesser work, it is still a fascinating and moving one.