“The Cinema is not a collection of cards, a collection of data” is the answer given to the question from A Useful Life‘s central character Jorge presented, what audiences should see when they are active spectators? It is a comment with breaks down the forth wall and confronts us as spectators that we must see A Useful Life and other films at a deeper level. With A Useful Life, Federico Veiroj makes this point significantly clear whilst defiantly offering his appreciation of cinema as an art form.
Primarily Veiroj makes this point through Jorge, a dedicated cinephile whose seems to be the dual representation of the silent film picture house he works for. It is Jorge who articulates the tragedy A Useful Life shows in cinema as a true art form deteriorating from the pressures of commercialism. Understand the continuing context of commercialism vs art which conveys Jorge as the tragic figure in this scene, stood alone next to a projector witnessing what he sees as visual art whilst external influences see it as uneconomic, makes A Useful Life prominent as cultural commentary. Veiroj’s drive to expose the counter argument of cinema as worthy art as deep – seeded immorality comes to ahead when Jorge briefly pretends to be a Law expert, explaining to a group of students the skill of lying is mastered in society to the point of perfection, regularly used to unjustifiably bring down others. Some could simply see this scene as Jorge embittered by the fate of his beloved picture house but Jorge was having a moment of clarity which perfectly personified Veiroj’s intentions.
Being true to the displayed cultural beliefs in dialogue were also applied to A Useful Life‘s micro style. Presented in black and white is an ever affective technique in adding to the dreary tone of Jorge’s predicament. Also the framing of specific scenes creating a sense of isolation within Jorge, an outcast figure socially and culturally attempting to get by. A Useful Life both aesthetically and contextually beholds what cinema at heart should be, producing art which spectators can emotionally invest in rather than profit which in today’s climate is falling under as Jorge did.