Undivided Attention

Undivided Attention

Release date:


Running time:

110 minutes


Available on DVD

Closed Captioned:


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  • Audience level:
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An episodic experience of cinematic metaphor and structure, Undivided Attention contradicts, tickles, and soothes our desire to understand and make sense of what we see. A young couple driving in a sports car take the viewer through more than twenty intriguing sequences that stimulate the visual senses as the film explores the relationship between intellectual and sensual knowledge. Each section is like a little film in itself - a dog fetching a ball, a woman reading at Niagara Falls, dishes smashing and remaining frozen in space, a trip across Wyoming. The camera becomes one with a trombone player, a painter, and snow shoveler, while other sections take us directly into metaphor concerning time, memory, art, music, or pop culture. This rich and challenging film comments on conventions of narrative and documentary, and has some fun with film theory.

Generically speaking Undivided Attention is a road movie but the trip is as much perceptual and intellectual as it is geographical. The film's "narrative" is constructed by means of recurring shots of a couple travelling in a car through various Canadian rural and urban landscapes. This emblematic couple is always crossing bridges just as Gallagher's film attempts to bridge the gap between the dichotomies that define his filmmaking.

The journey is a powerful perception-altering one. The viewer's sensory powers and intellectual assumptions about the nature of vision are forcefully challenged. But the film is about more that perceptual disorientation and the nature of illusion. Undivided Attention interweaves into its spirit of inquiry a subtext dealing with male-female relationships. In particular, the film looks at the dissatisfaction represented by the familiar split between the emotional and the intellectual.

"When Gallagher fastens the camera to the and of a paintbrush and the luxuriant travel of paint on canvas is followed, what is important is not the sum of the painter's brushing - the painting - but the sheer kinetic joy in the brush's travel. This is typical in a film where throughout attention is divided and momentary - there is no possibility of any absolute unity. In watching the rich red, blue and green spill from the brush's bristles, the view that Undivided Attention can be as pleasurable as it is stimulating is amply confirmed."

      - 42nd Edinburgh International Film Festival


Also available as a 16mm print with advanced notice.

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