The Dreamed Path Screen 81 of 12 reviews

The Dreamed Path

2016

The Dreamed Path Poster
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    Film Comment: Jordan Cronk
    January 03, 2017 | January/February 2017 Issue (p. 24)

    Within this severely constricted narrative, numerous objects and sensory details reveal themselves as unlikely conduits for experiential development. Like her most noted forebears (Bresson, Godard, Denis), Schanelec seeks to activate thought and sensation through economic, medium-specific methods, leaving explication by the wayside. Very little in contemporary cinema looks or operates like this.

  • This film constantly provokes by denying narrative climax: but that’s in a way the point. Godardian in its refusal to kowtow to ideologically prescribed pleasure, but entirely its own creator of beautiful perplexing shot after beautiful, perplexing shot.

  • Schanelec’s films have long played at the edges of classical narrative, with, for example, unannounced changes in place and time. But The Dreamed Path moves around in historical time in ways that are innovative for her cinema as well as for the Berlin School with which her films are usually grouped. Although there has been a recent trend within the Berlin School toward historical material... nothing would have prepared for Schanelec’s more radical becoming unstuck in time.

  • Schanelac has carved out a style of exacting mise-en-scène and disconcertingly affectless performance that clearly suggests Bresson. But in lieu of his steely-eyed precision, Schanelac opts for the abstruse and enigmatic. Spanning some thirty years... The Dreamed Path covers a lot of ground, and yet its wholly unknowable characters curiously wear the same costumes throughout, while every gesture and line of dialogue returns us continually to the fundamental ambiguity of being.

  • Schanelec has never enjoyed the same attention of many others awkwardly subsumed under the banner of the Berlin School, a fact which this bracing new work will hopefully change. To tie her austere, yet deeply felt vision to a particular trend is anyway a denial of its pure singularity.

  • A demanding film, even more so than Schanelec’s previous work, but the challenge is legitimated by being commensurate with her thematic ambition: to dissect the torturous dialectic between the universal human need for connection and the invisible forces that inhibit its fulfillment.

  • It’s a hilariously severe film, The Marble Index of Bresson-damaged High European Art Cinema... In the tradition of Straub-Huillet, this is a movie that simply cannot conceive of, let alone care about, a hypothetical viewer who should be made happy watching this. It is very much Art For Art’s Sake, and while that can be the excuse for a lot of garbage, its integrity of conception and intent is not up for question.

  • There was probably no single film I’ve seen this year—in Wavelengths, at TIFF, or anywhere else for that matter, narrative or experimental—that has left me more befuddled than The Dreamed Path. By the same token, the experience of watching Schanelec’s new film is something I can only describe as hypnotic. It is so rare that I am glued to the screen in anticipation, not for some plot point or a character’s development, but literally for the next shot.

  • Made of opaque tendrils of story paradoxically suggested through the utmost of precision (and prettiness) in framing spaces and her actors—each of whom deliver highly measured and mannered performances akin to those found in films by Robert Bresson—Schanelec adroitly and suggestively splits couples, splits people, splits time and space like the most subtle of atom-smashers, sending each off into the world to live and change and split again under the world’s unseen pressures.

  • Perhaps the freshest and most profoundly emotional film that [Schanelec's] ever made. In a crisp, 4:3-framed digital presentation, and featuring line deliveries and behaviours more affectless (or, if you’d rather, more “Bressonian”) than usual, Schanelec not only stays true to the aesthetic and philosophical tactics that made up the foundation of her work, but ups the ante on them in nearly every sense.

  • Maybe, however, Angela Schanelec’s The Dreamed Path and Milagros Mumenthaler’s The Idea of a Lake were simply too opaque to unfold properly in the rhythm of a festival, even one as laidback as Locarno can be. Still, I couldn’t really help feeling both were very clear on *how* they wanted to say their thing, but not so much on *what* they wanted to say.

  • With its imitations of Robert Bresson close-ups, pointless references to European political change, actors talking about acting, junkies who are never seen doing drugs, “unexpected” pop songs, and deliberately obscured narrative (probably because—wait for it—it has the arc of a bad Victorian social novel), Schanelec’s studious bore seems intended for an audience of people who write film festival catalogue descriptions.

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