Robert Kramer Retrospective:
In the Country
Director: Robert Kramer
USA / 1967 / 65 min
This very rare showing of In the Country will be presented with French subtitles.
An unnamed, cynical couple, played by William Devane (in his first lead role) and Catherine Merrill, escape from New York City to a big house in Westchester that they’ve been tasked to sell. He’s an ex-member of the Movement, an organizer, a photographer, and filmmaker (and possible stand-in for Kramer himself), who finds himself gazing into the abyss of his own alienation; she sees through his narcissism and translates his self-aggrandizing obfuscations into critiques of his political impotence. Kramer’s first fiction film was made as he transitioned from daily organizing in Newark (depicted in Norm Fruchter and Robert Machover’s Troublemakers, which will be shown October 28) to filmmaking as a form of critical commentary on the vicissitudes of Movement politics. As a study in solitude and self-obsession, it draws inspiration from the au courant art cinemas of Antonioni, Rossellini, Bresson, and Dreyer in its deliberately paced depiction of bourgeois disaffection. At once about the impasses that tore relationships apart as conventional gender norms were coming undone, and the limitations of mediamaking in the face of intractable political obstacles, In the Country is marked, ultimately, by an isolating and prolonged stasis that Kramer characterized as “[a] trapping, repetitive state of pain.”