A Still Jacket

77 min. / documentary / 2010 / Switzerland
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Roman doesn`t speak – not a word in twenty-six years. But the joy he takes in filming and being filmed is one expression of his life with autism.

 We follow Roman and Xaver through their daily routine on a farm in the Swiss Jura (Northwestern Switzerland). There are cows to be looked after and wood to be chopped. The drama between them ensues around the educational use of a chainsaw, with the aid of which Xaver attempts to help Roman acquire a feeling for physical control. A fascinating, often conflicted relationship, in which forces of attraction and rejection alternate in quick succession, develops between Roman and Xaver. At times, Roman appears to draw strength froms Xaver`s calm and understanding manner. At other times, he reacts with violent rejection. For a while, Xaver manages to wake and sustain Roman’s interest and to draw him out of his isolation. However, setbacks follow soon, riddles remain unsolved.

 

“A Still Jacket” is a film about relationships and their impossibility. Moments of peace and security – underlined by poetic nature observations – are contrasted by depictions of desperate emotional outbursts and anxiety attacks. Ramòn Giger not only succeeds in drawing a striking portrait, but realizes a contemplative reflection on the nature of human relationships themselves.

 

“A Still Jacket” formulates an appeal to impartiality and unadulterated sensuousness and turns the roles of director and actor, of those filming and those being filmed, on their head.

 

In the end, Xaver dies. Asked what he would like to give Xaver for along the way,

Roman’s answer is: “the strength to let go”.