Photo by Sharon Lockhart; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Gladstone Gallery, New York; and neugerreimschneider, Berlin
The last line of Sharon Lockhart’s new film, Pine Flat, is “Oh, my god,” and it’s hard not to sense the infinite in the film’s oscillation between rigor and turmoil, between the eternity suggested by landscapes and the fleeting moments of lived experience. The film is composed of 12 unmoving 10-minute shots, each of which features the sound and/or image of children from the town of Pine Flat in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In the first, we see a hillside in the midst of a snowstorm, then hear the plaintive voice of a girl calling, “Where are you?” somewhere in the snow-shrouded forest. Invisible, she seems ephemeral, even insignificant, overshadowed by the sweeping majesty of the trees. The beauty of Lockhart’s work is that it reckons with these disparities, letting the seemingly inconsequential align with the transcendent. Subsequent shots show kids reading, swimming, waiting and kissing, each image carefully framed for balance, color and movement. In one particularly luscious shot, a boy lies curled on the grassy ground in the cold curve of several boulders and tries to sleep. For the full 10 minutes, he fidgets, rubbing his little bare feet together while crickets chirp. His vulnerability — the pale, soft skin; the small, delicate body — is underscored when we hear gunshots in the distance. Watching him, we can’t help but fret about time’s speedy passage, and the terrible evanescence of our own lives. That thought gathers definition with the final shot, which shows an old tree in a swirl of fog accompanied by the sounds of kids playing. When the girl says, “Oh, my god,” we may be tempted to echo her, acknowledging within the cliché a wistful call to something bigger. (REDCAT at Disney Hall; Mon., May 22, 8 p.m. 213-237-2800 or www.redcat.org.)
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.