by Alex Jackson Mark (Michael Blackman Beck) is working on an encyclopedia of obsolete things. He writes on a typewriter, wears a fedora, and films interviews for his book with an outdated camcorder. One of the things he considers obsolete is love. This belief is tested when he meets Sophie (Gaynor Howe), a projectionist of silent movies who nonetheless loves life too much to be stuck in the past. Diane Bell's Obselidia is gorgeous to look at and very well-acted. If the description I just gave made it sound like something you might want to see, then you will probably enjoy it. Still, I found the film to be transparently manipulative. It seems we're meant to envy Mark's cocoon-like isolation while feeling inspired by how Sophie breaks him out of it. Realizing there is only so much tension that can develop between Mark and Sophie, Bell artificially shoehorns in a road trip to provide the film some kind of narrative drive. It's an acknowledgment on her part that she's reluctant to give either character any depth and thus risk neutralizing the quirky romantic escapism Obselidia has been consciously cultivating. There came a point where I wondered to myself if Mark has an entry for minstrel shows in his encyclopedia, which got me thinking how much better a film is Ghost World. Ghost World empathizes with its characters, but it also keeps pushing until the romance of being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl or the sadsack loser whose life she redeems loses its sheen; it has too much respect for the complexity of identity formation and romantic relationships to give us the easy pay-offs of Obselidia. In addition to all that, Obselidia annoyingly panders to an arthouse audience. Sophie bemoans that her boyfriend thinks Star Wars is the greatest movie ever made when he refuses to even watch Au hasard Balthazar because it's in black-and-white with subtitles. What's the use of preferring Au hasard Balthazar if you think Obselidia is worthwhile filmmaking?