Liquid Slow never lets the beat drop
Combining queer ballroom and dance-to-the-death betting rings, Liquid Slow is a painterly, chiaroscuro video laid over a minimalistic house track.
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Mad Max has been a vision of a future ruled by fast cars and downed airplanes, but in Liquid Slow, the future is ruled by deadly dance matches in a dirt-strewn Thunderdome.
The pounding beat leads us through a vision of dystopian poverty as we follow a young couple who are fighting to survive. The young man owes dangerous men money, and the young woman decides to enter a dance contest to the death, almost like a free-for-all MMA tournament, where the last dancer standing earns the prize money in the pot. The cinematography is soulful and elegant, focusing on moving bodies and angry faces, embedding you in the feeling of the song.
The music by techno artists Charlotte de Witte and Chis Leibing is haunting, low-fi, and without a lot of pretense or extra elements. It’s a dance house track with the slightest of sci-fi leanings. Although the young woman’s dancing is frenzied, it’s reminiscent of voguing, giving us a nice frame of reference as at the end we realize that this is likely the next phase of a queer ballroom experience that we’re watching from a very intimate distance.
Director Fernando Nogari has given us a strange view into the present affectations of the threat on queer spaces by showing what happens when such desires to capitalize on queer expression are taken to the terrible, surreal extreme. With nods to such 80s cult disasterpieces like Liquid Sky and Footloose, Liquid Slow is a strangely mesmerizing dancehall film.