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Vanishing Waves
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by Jay Seaver

"Sexy, smart science fiction."
4 stars

SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 15: I suspect that every film director would like to make a film that takes place inside dreams at some point - it's free reign to create imaginative visuals, dig right into a character's subconscious, and make the occasional narrative leap that skips right over the boring parts. Telling a story that way is trickier than it looks, though, even before you get to the science fiction bits, though Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte and company do quite well here.

We enter the story with Lukas (Marius Jampolskis), one of several scientists working on a mind-reading project. He's the one who will be shaving his head and donning a cap of electrodes to interface with a comatose test subject - a mentally active person would produce too much noise to sift through - and when he does, he's almost immediately plunged into a quite sexual dream with Aurora (Jurga Jutaite). He keeps this secret from the project leader (Vytautas Kaniusonis), the psychologist meant to interpret his findings (Rudolfas Jansonas), and his girlfriend (Martina Jablonskyte), telling them what they want to hear lest the program be halted.

And that, folks, is why an experiment should always have more than one test subject! Well, maybe the team does and we're just not seeing the less-spectacular results they achieved, which wouldn't surprise me, as the film actually seems to do an unusually good job in presenting science to its audience. There are details like Lukas not knowing who the coma patient is initially to prevent his findings from being biased that could easily have been omitted to streamline the story but instead make it feel more solid. Buozyte and co-writer Bruno Samper also fill the team with characters who can butt heads without falling into "intuitive rule-breaker versus petty bureaucrat" traps.

Sure, to an extent, some of that is going on, but it's treated more realistically and the cast is able to execute well. Marius Jampolskis, for instance, isn't afraid to make Lukas a little abrasive throughout even in spots where the idea might be to show him falling in love and doing things out of concern. It's still not alienating, but he's more interesting than he might have been. The supporting cast is quite good too, although this is mostly Jampolskis's and Jurga Jutaite's movie. She impresses as well, as Aurora is the one who must abide by dream logic, and it's neat how she figures out that something isn't quite right over the course of the movie, even though she's in the middle of surreal situations throughout.

Dreams, after all, seem perfectly reasonable while one is in the midst of them. These dreamscapes are in large part the work of Bruno Samper, who in addition to working on the screenplay has titles like "visual style author" and "visual effects creative supervisor", and he seems to lean less on models and CGI than striking design. Sometimes, it's things like finding existing odd architecture to create an imposing test chamber, or rejecting slick design for covering Lukas's shaved head with dozens of wired sensors. And rather a mental landscape full of different weird images, we get one memorable visual that proves quite flexible.

The pacing and general feel of this movie is interesting; Buozyte and Samper have made one of the most overtly sexy science fiction movies in recent memory but never feels like it's forcing the issue. Similarly, the climax isn't the elaborate action sequence one might expect, but it's plenty dramatic and makes quite striking use of the film's signature shredded-house image.

It makes for a nifty little movie, one that finds a nice place midway between the two science fiction poles of action extravaganzas and deliberately obscure head-breakers.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24249&reviewer=371
originally posted: 04/13/13 16:48:49
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2012 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2012 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Boston Underground Film Festival For more in the 2013 Boston Underground Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Stanley Film Festival For more in the 2013 Stanley Film Festival series, click here.

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  DVD: 23-Jul-2013



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