By Desistfilm Staff
The space proposed by Scott Barley in his Sleep has her House is one liberated of men and women. The filmmaker slides the possibility that we may be immersed in a foundational world, a world which was just created, of mythical origins, where an Eden is submitted to the rules of nature, to the fury of waterfalls and thunders, to the textures of sunsets, to a disperse fauna, small and silent, where woods of giant trees set the atmospheres in a constant nightfall. In order to achieve that, Barley turns to layers that color the landscapes, abstracting them and sensitizing them from the adulteration of its matter, but without escaping completely of the naturalism that is recreated on the universes of a Peter Hutton, or since the observation of landscapes proper of a James Benning. Despite the filters, color work, the world that Barley perceives is a complete extract of reality, in its perfect dimension -this are not the oblique or deformed “Sokurovian” trees- which the filmmaker accentuates through intense chiaroscuros. What’s more fantastic that thunders in a closed night? What femininity lets go a cascade in middle of a mountain? The natural in its most unreal dimension.
However, the landscapes in Barley’s film turn into the territory of the fantastic, in a sublimed construction of the territory, where the natural forces slowly mold the physiognomies of fields and skies. Like in the works of Leighton Pierce or Rei hayama, Barley explores the panoramas of woods and lakes from very long shots, that allow us to perceive subtle transformations but also the overwhelming ones, that here are developed from the experience of digital, through a registry made from an Iphone, provoking a sophistication in the support which is rarely seen.
Sleep has her House possesses a lost romanticism, since the evocation of the natural and the mythical world (with a God who controls it all) are being shaped from their maximal idealization, from a deity, where men is only a spectator, outside this construction where the only thing left is to be an outside observer. The filmmaker finally proposes an inverse process of creation : if in the religious imaginary God created the world in seven days, for Barley the destruction of this bucolic universe in its fury and beauty also has its epic. We attend an imagined slow rewind, immense and remarkable, transversing the paradise perfectly created to its total loss, all decided by a gigantic being, the boiling ever absorbing giant eye.
To approach the cinema of Angela Schanelec is no easy feat. The cadence in which her characters manifest an emotive universe, that physical ralenti of gazes and dialogues that constantly decant and harden can be interpreted as a gesture of arrogant dissociation with some more “friendly” codes of acting representation in cinema, or the sin of a way of filming which is “way too affected”. This “dramatic suspense” so proper to Schanelec, an artifact used for her actors (being herself also an actor by trade), primes the emotional tension to its almost total rupture, with some spaces for catharsis that doesn’t seem to resolve the emotional conflicts of her characters. Thus, the “non-resolution” or the “emotionally truncated” is specially frustrating in a cinema that decides to emotionally drain the spectator.
In The Dreamed Path, presented in the international competition of the last Lima Independiente Film Festival, the maneuver of the filmmaker is applied to two couples: Theres and Kenneth, both young activists living in Greece, and Ariane and David, a marriage slowly crumbling. Both relationships, if kilometers (and years) away from each other, have as a starting common point the emotional or physical cracking and rupture. Theres and Ariane generate the ruptures, one of them decides to follow her own path, far away from her lover, the other decides that she’s no longer in love and decides to break her marriage. Kenneth and David are beings adrift, suddenly confronted with absence, the breaking of their human and emotional structures. The monitoring of these dramas entails some complex structures where more people involved suffer: the mother of Kenneth is slowly dying, and his father, despite the fact, can’t seem to connect with his drug-addicted son. Ariane and David’s daughter is a victim of their dying relationship. Her suffering, this internal procession, is magnificently portrayed in one of the final scenes of the film, where the girl kicks a soccer ball towards the camera: the expression of a routinely task as a showcase of discontent.
The Dreamed Path is a film of fragments in different times, places and emotional spaces, pieces that need to be assembled slowly, fighting against frustration: for Schanelec, the resolution isn’t a goal, and finally, her characters are set adrift, despite their meticulously construction. Maybe the only thing true in her cinema is that this search exists, that despite every circumstance, human beings reach out in the -sometimes- fruitless task of generation a connection.