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Stars: Viv Albertine, Liam Gillick, Tom Hiddleston, Harry Kershaw, Mary Roscoe, Christopher McWatters

Director: Joanna Hogg

Like it or not, moviemaking is an industry. Without audience-friendly movies that make a profit, cinemas would wither and die unattended.

So where does that leave movies like this pretentious waste of time and film stock?

The answer is simple.

Ensure people know that it is an art movie in every sense and the work of an auteur and good reviews are guaranteed.

Entertainment, however, is not.

Reviews, of course, were almost uniformly positive. But remember, reviewers see movies for free.

The first clue for the dreariness that is to come lies in the credit “A film by Joanna Hogg”.

This means that the aspiring auteur is happy to ignore the many others on both sides of the camera who contributed to the making of the movie. Even an art film like this patent money-loser requires quite a few people other than just Hogg to bring it to the screen.

(Unlike Hogg, Ang Lee was happy to publicly praise and thank the 1,200 or people involved in bringing Life of Pi to the screen).

The second clue (after all it takes money to realise a movie) is that Exhibition was financed by the BBC (i.e. TV licence payers helped pay for it) and with Lottery money.

So why should the public pay for Ms Hogg’s celluloid ego trip? Presumably because the six credited producers and co-producers were unable to persuade anyone apart from public funding to allow her to go the whole hog and help bring this pointless picture to the screen.

Hogg’s previous picture Archipelago was moderately enjoyable. Which makes this anaesthetic offering even duller and more disappointing.

Plot? Barely enough to have engaged me for about 15 minutes of the seeming endless 104 minutes that Exhibition runs for.

The luckless protagonists are married couple D (Viv Albertine) and H (Liam Gillick). D is a performance artist (unfortunately for her Hogg depicts her ‘performing’ which is about as interesting as watching an iceberg melt over several centuries) and he is an artist who works separately from her. And after 20 years, they decide to movie from their trendy modernist home.

End of plot, and the beginning of a waste of time that I found to be both pointless and pretentious. What follows is more like a series of tableaux than watchable storytelling.

The leads, embarrassingly ‘acted’ by non professionals, do their best and even offer a sex scene on a sofa, a nude swim and that art-movie favourite, masturbation.

In context, however these sequences turn out to be less stimulating than an overdose of chloroform.

Tom Hiddleston turns up briefly as an estate agent. That’s his misjudgment.

That said, I suppose Hogg deserves some kind of praise for getting Exhibition made at all.

Alan Frank

UK 2013. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour.
104 minutes. not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 25 May 2014