The advantage of film festivals is that they bring movies unseen before. This year, the European Film Festival began in Bucharest with both „classics” (The Hunt of Thomas Vinterberg) and brand new movies for our screen, such as The Price of Desire. This turned into a good opportunity for me to install in one of the red armchairs in „Elvira Popescu” cinema and watch The Price of Desire leisurely.
The entire movie is actually about a house, one of the first modernist villas made after the plans of designer Eileen Gray, house called E1027 (I will let you see the movie to discover why it’s called that way; I assure you the name of this house is not the number on its address, but a blend of people, egos, love and imagination, all combined in a very simple code). It’s about a house that influences the people’s destinies and not the other way around.
You will instantly like the image (Stefan von Bjorn) and the music. They are so good that you often feel tempted to stop reading the lines on the screen. And that would be a useful exercise as unfortunately the script represents the weak point of this film. It’s unrealistic, artificial and slow. Even when the characters are fighting, they talk like in the architecture manuals…
So, if you can, try to ignore the lines. Just like few spectators were commenting outside the cinema: „very well made, but I couldn’t understand anything from what they were saying… So I stopped reading and just watched the images. And the house really seemed ugly, what do you think?” It looks like the audience always knows best! This is the main strength of the film: it puts you, as a spectator, in the perspective of the people which at the beginning of the century were reinventing the idea of house.
Is the house a car that man uses? Is it a shelter and a refuge? The house must fit the environment that it’s in or, on the contrary, should the house dominate and defy it? Is the house a shell, an extension of man and, at the same time, the way a man takes cover in a shelter? The house also reveals these characters, well-known figures of their time in design and architecture as being incapable to enjoy the result of their creation. They appear vulnerable without shells, exposed, empty. „The Price of Desire” is an uneven movie and often inconsistent, with a director, Mary McGuckian, which has the weakest script writer in Mary McGuckian, but with a profound story and an image sometimes brilliant.
Le Corbusier is a well performed character, but only due to the effort of Vincent Perez, who is visibly one class above the rest of the cast. If you succeed to ignore the uneven and uninspired script, you will discover a beautiful movie with an extraordinary idea (shell house invented by the most vulnerable people), an idea which unfortunately has not been properly exploited.