Two groups from the other side of the law are set to meet in the woods and make an exchange. It was supposed to be an “easy job” but from the beginning, a helicopter begins to follow the first group’s car messing up the group’s plans. During the film, one of the main points of drama is the need to avoid helicopters surveillance. The story revolves around this first of the groups which brings with them a mysterious briefcase. We follow their leader and his companions as they go through consecutive mishaps and tensions. The group goes through the crises of being lost, and constantly deals with quietly growing resentments among its members. After the meeting – a deadly fight with the other group ends with heavy losses. The few left are – and we with them – lost in questions about the future, and what matters in life. In the end, the inner passions and conflicts cause more deaths that at this point seem even more senseless. There are many subtle undercurrents of the story. Among them is a competition between two women in our group. One is young and new to the “business” the other is experienced but older and tired. This part of the story slowly grows in intensity until the older woman removes herself from competing in one of the most dramatic moments of the film. The whole picture is an allegory of the struggle between the old and the new, the patient and the impatient, the wise and the cocky, the thoughtful and the cruel, the stale and the fresh. After watching this film it is easy to accept that we have all of those components intertwined together in ourselves. All the time. This story is violent and at the end, most of the characters die. We see the survivors in the end as, fragile and lost, they are emerging on the side of a road, at the edge of the woods. Damaged by the trek and violence they went through, the film leaves them on the cusp of civilization as the new future.
What is unique about this film
“1” is an action drama. During its 99 minutes there is no narration and no single word of dialogue is uttered. This alone sets the film apart as an artistic exploration and a search for broadening the language of cinema.
However, the audience does not feel the need for spoken language. “1” has intense relationships of its characters and manages to touch upon difficult themes and conflicts. The audience “gets it” and will merely realize later that no one spoke from the screen.
The sound design here is more important than ever. Every step, waft of wind, cry of a bird, has far greater importance than in a typical movie. Sudden silences and music have a deep meaning and narrative consequence.
Because there is no dialogue, the simple storyline of the film is not obvious. Watching the film becomes a multilayered, profound experience. Small ambiguities of simple facts add themselves, creating the experience of an iceberg, where the visible tip is only a hint of much greater presence. That sense of something much greater than the obvious is to stay with the viewer.
The experience of “1” is unique in big part due to great acting in the film. Established actors as well as some less known or the first-timers, have in this film some of their best ever performances.
This film is visually beautiful too. Use of natural lighting, along with combination of subtle and spectacular camera movements, make “1” suspenseful.
The storytelling is also helped by innovative editing. The film was shot having in mind many fine, out of the ordinary cuts and succeeds in incorporating many new resolutions. Still, even if it makes an under the surface impact, this new editing is not distracting. For the audience, watching is seamless.
All in all, perhaps the most unique quality of the film is that it speaks as a whole. The film is greater than the sum of its elements. This is where lays its potential for the lasting impact.