A self-proclaimed fan of the Berlin school of filmmaking, I was eagerly anticipating Angela Schanelec's latest film, as I've always found her to be one of the most enriching and genuine contemporary filmmakers working today. With her latest effort, The Dream Path, Angela Schanelec has crafted another intoxicating experience which attempts to cut to the core of human emotion through a relatively plotless mood piece, shifting seamlessly from character to character, with many of these individuals only true connection being their sense of loneliness, alienation, and longing. A beguiling experience that is sure to frustrate less adventurous viewers, The Dreamed Path spends a lot of time with two distinct characters in Kenneth and Ariane, each of which are suffering deeply due to the hand that has been dealt to them in life. When we are first introduced to Kenneth he is presented as joyous and carefree, an aspiring singer whose happily in a relationship with Theres, a young woman who is interested in studying language. A frantic call shatters Kenneth's world, as he soon learns that his mother has suffered a terrible accident, a revelation that throws Kenneth into a spiral of depression, as he struggles to deal with the trauma and pain associated with the potential loss of his mother. Kenneth is a character who is completely lost after this tragedy, a man who has lost faith in the future and optimism itself due to this hand which has been dealt. When we leave his character, shifting to the life of Ariane, we see a man in Kevin who is indiscernible from the man we were introduced to in the beginning, a man in pain and anguish who has no peace. Angela Schanelec's The Dream Path shows little interest in defining its timeline, with our only understanding of events coming from the characters themselves, their transformations, nothing more. When the narrative shifts towards Ariana we are not sure if there has been a time shift at first, with the revelation of Kenneth,who has become a homeless man and lost all hope, being the only true indication of a severe leap in time. Ariane has no relationship or connection to Kenneth physically, but shares the similar pain, an actress who herself struggles with a terrible sense of longing, adrift in a loveless marriage, unable to find any semblance of happiness even after she cuts the cord on her failed marriage. For Ariane, she is a character suffering from depression and alienation, a woman who has never been confortable in her own skin, never happy with her own successes in life, stuck in a perpetual state of dreaming she was someone else, free of her pain and anguish. Angela Schanelec's direction is paramount in this exploration of loneliness and alienation, as the filmmaker uses stoic, unconventional compositions throughout, rarely fixating on the character's faces, often focusing on their bodies, voiding the viewer of facial intimacy at times, seemingly an attempt to force the viewer to feel the same cold void as her set of protagonists. Without question an enigmatic experience, Angela Schnaelec's The Dreamed Path taps into the harsh reality of loneliness and internal anguish, a film which details the lack of empathy it creates in all of us, which inevitably leads to some form of tragedy, whether it be through the loss of life or the pain which it causes those around us.
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