Ramon Zuercher

6.8 The Strange Little Cat (2013)
7.0 Das Maedchen und die Spinne/ The Girl and the Spider (2021)

Ramon Zuercher (Switzerland, 1982) and his twin brother Silvan debuted with Heute mag ich dieses Lied/ Today i Like this Song (2007).

The result of a workshop with Bela Tarr, Das Merkwuerdige Kaetzchen/ The Strange Little Cat (2013), barely an hour long, is set mostly in an apartment and follows an extended family from the moment they wake up to the moment they part after a dinner. The scenes are shot from unusual angles, as if to open up the narrative to the broader context as opposed to focusing on the narrow surroundings of an event. Objects are protagonists and participate in the action. Very minor unexpected events are shown as major disruptions of the course of the universe. The real protagonist, however, is the mother, who stares silently at the insignificance of such a universe.

A cat meows to get into a room whose door is locked. That meow turns into the scream of a little girl, Clara, who is having breakfast with her parents and her older sister. She writes down the shopping list. She screams again (apparently to imitate the noise of the coffee grinder) and her parents ignore her. The cat jumps on the table and causes a glass to fall and break. Clara picks it up and cuts her finger but it's a little cut. Her mother tells the older daughter that at the movies a stranger put his foot over hers. Father and Clara leave to go shopping. Mother stares speechless and like petrified. We see a shoe that is about to crush the head of the cat that is eating from a bowl. Clara's uncle and a cousin arrive. We learn that Clara's siblings Karim and Simon arrived the day before to visit. The uncle fixes the washing machine that is leaking. Mother and her daughter Karim notice a bottle that oscillates by itself. Outside the window they see a bag attached to a string: the upstairs neighbors can't do the stairs anymore. There is tension between mother and Karim: when Karim starts telling a story, mother starts the blender, interrupting her. Karim has discovered that when you throw orange skin on the floor it always falls with the white side up, and proves it by throwing some on the floor in front of her mother. Another boy shows up, thirsty, presumably another cousin. Uncle runs the washing machine to test that it's fixed. Simon wakes up and is told to go and pick up his granma. We see close-ups of random objects and animals, including a moth and a bird. Clara recycles plastic. Mother eats outside. We even see a close-up of the washing machine's glass. Karim smokes a cigarette by the window. Clara is back but she decides to go out and feed a rat. Simon is back with granma. She takes a nap in Simon's room. Father walks in. Simon tells Karim the story of a crazy woman at a party. Back home, Clara rips off a loose button from the shirt of her cousin and her mother slaps her. Mother cries because she's chopping onions and makes fun of the way Karim drinks. Mother is disappointed to see that Clara misspelled all the words in the shopping list. The cousin flies a little remote-controlled helicopter and Clara screams out of her lungs because someone has turned on the coffee grinder. A woman and her daughter Hanna (carrying a giant cello case) arrive. We still don't know what the occasion is. Hanna's mother tells the story of how she got stranded 24 hours in a hotel when her flight was canceled at the last minute and that she was happy. Now we see more close-ups of objects, including Clara's note with all the words misspelled. Everybody sits at the table and starts eating and chatting. Mother is not eating, just staring silently at them. She doesn't look happy. She gets up and makes the bottle oscillate again. She tells someone (Karim?) that she likes to have lunch alone in that crowded restaurant. Granma fell asleep. Dinner is over and the guests help clean up. Mother fills the magic dancing bottle with sparkling water so it doesn't dance anymore, but the cork pops out and hits the lamp, blowing up the bulb. The light goes out and finally mother laughs. Father lights a candle. Uncle leaves and, again, mother stares silently.

Das Maedchen und die Spinne/ The Girl and the Spider (2021)

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