The Dreamed Path (2016) Poster

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Complex, Resplendent and Moving
Blue-Grotto14 October 2016
It is the conversations that we do not have that often haunt and perplex us the most about our relationships. A little girl does what she can to assist a wounded friend, a young couple sings and sleeps together in a foreign land, a lethal dose of drugs is administered to a parent and a marriage falls apart without accusation or reproach. Few words are exchanged in each situation, yet hearts are bound together, broken, strengthened or diminished. Conversation is futile or ineffectual. The moments pass mysteriously as in a dream. Words are replaced by music, the serenity of nature, impulsive and incomplete gestures and other indefinable things.

The Dreamed Path is a complex, resplendent and moving meditation on human nature, the limitations of words and the defining yet vague moments from the past that flit beyond our reach like uncatchable butterflies. Too often directors and actors attempt to control how we think and react, yet Schanelec deftly leaves such choices to audiences as well as her characters. "Do not think, just feel," she urged the audience before the film began at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It is good advice, for facts are artificial, malleable and truly stranger than fiction. We cannot hope to know what the characters do not even know for themselves. Wonderfully, the same logic pervades the film's cinematography. It seems like there are no cameras present as we float around the characters and become part of their decisions and lives.
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So much better than anything else you may see this year.
MOscarbradley30 May 2018
In the cinema of Angela Schanelec you cannot take your eyes off the screen for a second for fear of missing a vital piece of information. Schanelec doesn't make films that follow a logistical narrative path but rather she drip-feeds us a narrative that we must make sense of. There is sometimes a formal structure but often it's as if we have joined the characters in the middle of a conventional film rather than at the beginning and we leave them before the end as though her characters will live on after the film is over...or not; if a character's life is to come to an end it will happen off-screen. Either way, we the audience, will not be around to see what happens next. Of course, what happens 'in-between' wll most likely bore an audience seeking excitement or even something straightforward but if you are prepared to give yourself over to her style of film-making you may find yourself entranced.

Families are often at the heart of her films; particularly the dynamics between parents and children. Her latest film, "The Dreamed Path" begins with a couple meeting and seemingly striking up a relationship of sorts before swiftly moving on to embrace the boy's relationship with his ill mother and surly, blind father. The characters speak metronomically as if not quite in the same world that the rest of us inhabit or, as the title suggests, in a dream while 'stories' that appear to be developing lead nowhere. This is difficult, even challenging, cinema, in which even the passing of time is subverted with past and present intermingingly and characters finding themselves in places they ought not to be in, again as in a dream, (for once any synopsis handed out with the film is very welcome).

In the past I sometimes felt as if I were intruding on the privacy of Schanelec's characters but in "The Dreamed Path" they seem so cut off from reality that really isn't a consideration. It also may mean that this is her least accessible work and her least involving film. That said, it is also so much better than almost anything else you are likely to see this year; it simply shouldn't be missed.
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