Terror and Intimidation Emerge in Trailer for Acclaimed Debut ‘Notes on an Appearance’

Written by on July 30, 2018 


I can think of nobody among the contemporary American indie scene in step with Ricky D’Ambrose, who’s made a name in recent years with a series of dry, spare, elusive short films that recall the senibilities of Robert Bresson and Straub-Huillet, all the while evincing understanding of why that rigidity so often entertains rather than distances. Those benefits extend to his debut feature, Notes on an Appearance, which screened at this year’s Berlinale and New Directors/New Films to strong notices — both for its style and an economy of storytelling that, in its suggestive qualities, has also earned comparisons to L’Avventura — and comes to theaters in just a few weeks.

Thus there is a D’Ambrose-edited trailer selling both his picture’s tactile, intimate effects and the current of malfeasance running beneath them. Having seen the full thing at ND/NF, I can allege that it earns a place among the major comparison points, if only for never once assuming the audience will need a guiding hand stronger than that which delivers Notes‘ intoxicating mixture of ease and rigor. It’s also a great New York film, photographing streets, buildings, and interiors that either go unseen or are dressed for a big screen — rather, Notes on an Appearance‘s beauty often comes from the sense of having entered a lived space, all the more so when its tenants are on the cusp of vanishing into thin air.

Watch below:

A young man’s disappearance is at the center of an enigmatic, haunted film set inside New York City apartments, subway stations, bookstores, and cafés as the supporters of an elusive political theorist embark on a covert program of indiscriminate violence and censure. But Todd and Madeleine, who search for the missing David, soon enter the company of strangers promising diversion and intrigue, and the reasons for David’s disappearance become much less preoccupying — and less meaningful.


Notes on an Appearance will open at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on August 17 and expand nationally in weeks and months to follow.

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