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A Vanishing Fog
Image Courtesy of SXSW

Film

Surrealism and Isolation Wash Over A Vanishing Fog

Augusto Sandino’s A Vanishing Fog is at times otherworldly, but often obtuse in its storytelling, leading to a hypnotic, yet unengaging film.

SXSW 2022: A Vanishing Fog Review

The isolation that permeates throughout Augusto Sandino’s A Vanishing Fog is the kind of imagery that strikes a chord immediately and doesn’t let up. It dictates the voyeuristic surrealism that makes the film hypnotic and explains the sexual energy that occasionally bubbles to the surface. It’s an entrancing movie that feels especially poignant as its ecological concerns and solitude create a friction that is frustrating, to say the least. However, A Vanishing Fog’s message ends up obfuscated by its obtuse storytelling, providing little to latch onto besides a futile cycle of caregiving and self-gratification.

Perhaps that’s all that the film requires to drive its point home. As we watch the mysterious F (Sebastian Pii) as he struggles to take care of his father and the world around him, his own life’s purpose is called into question. Why is this man burdened with taking care of the world around him? As Sandino’s film blends magical realism and science fiction elements around its already gorgeous, lyrical cinematography, it’s evident that what calls F to his current role in life is being eaten away by ambition and desire.

A Vanishing Fog
Image Courtesy of SXSW

This amounts to primal human moments such as the sexual frustration of being always alone, or the urge to scream from a mountaintop just to be heard. A Vanishing Fog is at its best when it leaves Pii to embody someone enigmatic but visibly troubled. Human ambition weighs heavily on the soul, and though the film is sparse on actual plot, F’s agitation and desire for more in life is obvious.

Where problems reside in Sandino’s film is its thematic intent. There’s a lot of duality but it leads to a lack of clear, concise messaging. Some elements end up far too understated, while others eat up significant screen time. There’s an almost slavish dedication to the surrealism that works with Pii’s performance and Gio Park’s tremendous photography, but fails the film’s screenplay. Captivating as every shot is – and trust me when I say the vistas on display here are staggering – there’s only so far that can carry a film that seems to have a lot on its mind but wants to tell it as simplistically as possible. Its fable narrative is a solid foundation, but it more often builds around it than upon it.

Despite its lack of engagement narratively, there’s an unspoken energy that pulls the audience in with its lead actor’s performance, the mysterious circumstances surrounding his character, and the hypnotic audiovisual components. There’s nothing tangible about A Vanishing Fog but the way it leans into being a sensory experience lets the surrealist elements wash over the film, forcing its characters to decide whether to search for something more or remain bound to a knowingly fragile world.

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Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

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