Non-Review: “Experimental Film,” Gemma Files

It’s been ages since I last posted a non-review: a brief blurb in which I tell you why, exactly, I was unable to finish reading a book, so you can decide for yourself whether it might interest you anyway. (When I do this, I don’t review the book on Amazon or Goodreads.) In Gemma Files’s Experimental Film, film critic Lois has lost her job as a teacher and spends her time split between reviewing films and taking care of her autistic son, Clark, with her husband Simon’s help. She thinks she may have found a lead on a mysterious piece of old film… and that’s about as far as I got, although it took longer to get there than you might think.

Lois’s specialty is Canadian film, and she goes into this in exquisite(ly painful) detail. I usually like learning new things, but I read way more than I ever wanted to about surrealistic films. Or, to quote Lois’s narrative:

[Experimental film] “WANTS to bore you, to annoy you, to put you in a trance and force you to meet it halfway.”

Well I wouldn’t say that the book put me in a trance, but it did bore and annoy me. I really wanted to like it, because I was interested to read more about Clark and his problems and how Lois and Simon handled them, and how that would interact with the main storyline. But instead at some point I looked down and saw that my e-reader estimated another six hours left in the story. The idea of reading that rambling, slow narrative for that much longer completely and utterly turned me off.

So, if you’re in the mood for something very slow, with a lot of random stuff about surrealist Canadian fimmaking, then go for it. I have it on the authority of a friend who finds film fascinating that he loved this book. Me, I’d rather go back to studying for my anatomy exam. Since I usually agree with his taste in books, I’ll put it down to the fact that he’s a bit of a film buff and I’m decidedly not.

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