It could always be worse, though at times, that can be hard to believe. A mother pees herself to spite her son, beds ooze maggots, a prostitute poisons a string of dogs, simply because she can. With It Looks Pretty From a Distance, co-directors and married couple, Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal, have created a quietly towering work of sheer miserabilism.
The world is threadbare. People speak to each other out of necessity alone, or when the opportunity arises to put someone down. Energy is expended only to destruct: to rip a car apart, to burn a house to the ground, to hurt someone else. There is no story, no protagonist. It is a group of people—a few men, a few women, and some kids—who, despite being together in their misery, are all utterly alone. Yet, even with the lack of direction, the world feels whole; each gesture infused with history, the weight that has brought them to this moment, each look pregnant with years of baggage.
Gregory Crewdson’s photographs come to mind while watching the film. His work, gorgeous reinterpretations of seedy, sad places are always pretty, but also almost always from a distance. When you are right up close, your face pressed up against the glass, it’s discomfiting, but also invigorating. If these people have to live through it, the least you can do is watch. And with It Looks Pretty, you have no choice.