While she amuses from a distance a little girl at a neighbouring table by trying to inspire her to eat up her meal, Laura hides deep unfulfilled yearnings. She takes immense delight in attending a piano concerto – she herself a piano teacher – and she eavesdrops to a new young pianist in her school enjoying his energy as well as his enthusiasm. Otherwise, in all other moments of her life… she keeps swimming.
Duda Gorter displays a dry skin over her short flick almost cinematically sealing its under-layers. Acoustically dominated by piano pieces, ‘Fantaisie Impromptu’ is almost a visual alternative interpretation of Chopin’s piano piece bearing the same name. Fantaisie Impromptu is one of the operas that the great composer refused to publish (among many others). It is unclear why he had refused to do so but it is believed this might be because of its strong relation with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. This makes Chopin’s composition feel very, very personal. This is the secret of breaking through the opaque surface of Duda Gorter’s film.
Laura takes things very personal when it comes down to her own life. The intensity with which she listens and understands piano is hypnotic. It is easy to assume that she transcends to a different world, an idealised one. Things begin to reveal themselves: the little girl she ‘plays’ with from a distance is the materialised wish for her own child that she never had; the concert she attends is the recognition for one’s mastery that she never tasted; the young piano player with his dedicated, impetuous interpretation is a reflection of her own past dreams and her enthusiasm to aim high, but he might as well be the craving for a bohemian idyll she never had. Instead, what she got, is a marriage with a man sensitively incompatible and a common life as a teacher.
‘Fantaisie Impromptu’ is Laura’s improvised fantasy about a better life, one that motivates her, that puts her under the spotlight, that offers her the joy of a child, a life that fulfils her. There is also a spiritual theme present, one that constantly reminds about the merciless flow of time and maybe redemption. Laura reflects about her own life and as she still craves for a child she might accuse herself for the sin of not having dared to live her life at its full potential.
This is a reflective story about the human fear to overcome its condition, about its inability to fight against the wave that flattens and trivialises the spirit. The only thing left to do, the only way to hope is to ‘keep swimming’.
Profound, sensitive and agonising!