45 Minutes From Edith Wharton
80 min / 2022 / watch on vimeo
The specific work in question is Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence (published 1920, set in the 1870s). But Steve Fagin does not set out to adapt this novel in any way, shape or form. To address it, yes. To circle it. Surround it. Question it. Stalk it, even. To treat it as a cultural site (across, literally, its many editions) and also, in a virtual-cubistic sense, an imaginary space that one can inhabit and poke around in. To unsettle its foundations, its comfortable drift into history, including media history.
At all times and in all spaces – real or imaginary, stripped-down or surreal, physical or digital – Fagin weaves in striking details, gestures, manoeuvres. Geoffrey Hug’s cinematography is crisp and on the ball, following every movement. The blackboard is on wheels, it gets flipped and hurled around. A performer speaking about historic riots never ceases arranging her magnificent hair throughout her tale. We recognize the same patch of purple lighting on a wall, uniting two different tableaux. A giant birthday-cake prop, which doubles as a stage for the actors, also contains – if you look closely enough – tiny media screens.
The humor in Fagin’s work is, all at once, conceptual and liberating, rewiring your brain in real-time. The inventiveness carries a shock of surprise; its off-center character is a poke to your sensorium.
--Rest in Pieces, Adrian Martin