A young woman travels to a remote studio utopia intent on spiritual reset only to find her solitude disrupted by an experimental sound artist. A stunning work of atmosphere, both mysterious and transparent, “Atelier” sets its worldly concerns in an otherworldly place, a stark modernist structure built in the middle of the woods. Directed by Elsa María Jakobsdóttir, an Icelandic director based in Denmark, it’s a singular experience, intriguing, suspenseful, and slyly funny.
The young woman arrives to work on a personal project. Tightly-wound and anxious, a retreat is just what she needs. And at first, it’s everything she wanted, a quiet place to relax and unwind, do yoga, sit in peace to think. But before long, all that is disrupted by an another visitor who bursts in and wastes no time setting up her acoustic installation art, blasting abrasive sounds to all corners of the home. Personality conflicts and lifestyle differences ensue, and making matters worse is the fact that the perturbed woman can’t get ahold of Daniel, the home owner who promised she would by alone here.
Rosalinde Mynster as the lead is a joy to watch, wonderfully expressive while being utterly tense. And Anna Rothlin is perfectly cast as the free-spirited (or aloof depending) counterpoint. The visual elements — the transcendent setting, the pristine compositions, the natural light spilling in from all angles — play against the unsettling soundscape, the ominous drone score, the artist's nightmarish sound tracks. The 30 minute short packs in ample mood and feeling and never drags, and could certainly sustain a feature length version. Oh and also, there’s a flock of sheep making their way toward the house with unknown intentions. Yep, sheep. (30 minutes) Written and directed by Elsa María Jakobsdóttir. Starring Rosalinde Mynster and Anna Rothlin. Producer: Anna Malmkjær Willumsen. Editor: Mark Bukdahl. Sound Designer: Toke Gelardi Rønsholdt. Cinematographer: Annika Aschberg.