Before We Vanish by Paul Attard Film

The Dreamed Path | Angela Schanelec

May 4, 2018

As InRO‘s Lawrence Garcia put it, the best thing about film festivals is seeing something that will completely surprise you — and he and I definitely agree that The Dreamed Path is surprising. Angela Schanelec’s film opens with a couple — Kenneth (Thorbjörn Björnsson) and Theres (Miriam Jakob) — in a forest in Greece. Kenneth gets a phone call from his sick parents, and decides that he must return home to take care of them. Theres then gets a teaching job in Germany. Soon the film changes location and time, moving about 30 years later, and to Berlin. We begin to follow a brand new couple, Ariane (Maren Eggert) and her husband David (Phil Hayes), lovers who as well suffer from an eventual falling out, and with the same level of non-descript drama that affected the film’s first romance.

The four characters end up interlocked with one another, though Schanelec doesn’t initially seem interested in developing why each person has gotten to this point. Rather, her focus seems more on the hypnotic mood of her film; her long takes don’t feel purposelessly ponderous, but more intentionally telegraph an uncertainty. It’s refreshing to see a filmmaker in this year’s ND/NF lineup who wants to use their film in a genuinely questioning fashion, and not just as a showcase for their rigorous technique. The Dreamed Path can often be a baffling experience, one that doesn’t start to reveal its complexities until its second half — when the overall structure begins to make more sense. Up until this point, Schanelec refuses to state any intention, much to the chagrin of many who’ve sat through her film. But the prize for being a patient viewer in this case is one of the strangest and most unique features to grace the festival circuit this year. 

Published as part of New Directors/New Films 2017 | Dispatch 2.