a film by Andreas Horvath
(2019 / 128 min)
Lillian, an emigrant stranded in New York City, decides to walk back to her native Russia. She resolutely starts out on the long journey. A road movie straight across the USA into the freezing temperatures of Alaska. The chronicle of a slow disappearance.
A fascinating walk through a mysterious land … Horvath’s cinematography can be dazzling and spectacular — the first sight of the Rocky Mountains, a furious thunderstorm seen from inside a junk car. Music is subtly used, but the film has its own hypnotic rhythm. A rich soundscape of natural noises makes up for the lack of dialogue.
The Cannes Directors’ Fortnight has unearthed an absolute gem this year. Andreas Horvath’s Lillian is a road movie across America, which serves up a history lesson on Native Americans, a state-of-the-nation assessment on rural living and an otherworldly thriller with an environmental undertone. (…) It’s a haunting picture, one that links nature and humanity in unexpected and cruel ways. The multi-talented Horvath also took care of the ethereal cinematography and contributed the memorable soundtrack.
Lillian (Patrycja Planik) is the main character in Andreas Horvath’s impressive first work of fiction … Like Lillian’s will and feet when it comes to keeping on going, Horvath’s eye never gets tired of discovering these new places and weather conditions, and of showing them to us in all their natural splendor. Lillian is two hours long, but here every minute becomes a feast for our eyes and a source of strong emotions, through the sole power of Horvath’s shots and editing. His movie is a tour de force, which keeps us in awe from beginning to end even though its premise might seem minimalist.
The film is impressively shot by Horvath himself and has moments of imposing beauty. Lillian’s angular face bathed in the glow of Independence Day fireworks and her clear vision of the northern lights linger in the memory. The more Lillian heads into the winter wilderness the more attractive the film becomes. Ultimately Horvath manages to find an epic grandeur in the simple story of a woman just trying to make her way home.
Austrian filmmaker Andreas Horvath’s Lillian is a visually stunning imagining of this epic journey through modern-day America … Undoubtedly, Horvath’s greatest achievement with his latest feature is his cinematography, which captures the landscape with jaw-dropping scale and beauty. The soundtrack, too, does an excellent job in establishing atmosphere and keeps the film moving at its own pace.