Enigmatic and quiet by design, this formally-rigourous work brings Schanelec’s brand of austere cinema to its logical extreme as she once again explores human relationships in existential flux.
Dir. Angela Schanelec
2016 | Germany | Drama | 86 mins | 1.37:1 | German, English, Greek
M18 (passed clean) for nudity
Cast: Miriam Jakob, Thorbjorn Bjornsson, Maren Eggert
Plot: Theres and Kenneth are young, when they first meet in their summer holidays in Greece. They fall in love with each other but can’t prevent the forthcoming separation. 30 years later, in another country, Ariane leaves her husband David, because she doesn’t love him anymore.
Awards: Nom. for Golden Leopard (Locarno)
International Sales: Filmgalerie 451
Subject Matter: Moderate – Existential, Relationships
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex – Elliptical
Audience Type: General Arthouse
Unfortunately still not as widely-known a name even in arthouse cinema circles as some of her other European female compatriots, Angela Schanelec has stealthily produced a small but not insignificant body of work that very much reflects her preoccupations with ennui and human relationships in continuous, existential flux.
Her style is formal and precise, in the spirit of slow cinema, yet her films are uniquely captivating. The Dreamed Path, one of her later works, very much brings her brand of austere cinema to its logical extreme where she ‘out-Schanelecs’ herself.
It is, however, not the best place to begin if you want to get started with her filmography. Enigmatic and quiet by design, The Dreamed Path is arguably her most radical film.
Dialogue is kept to a bare minimum as we follow two separate couples in different timelines—one in 1989, the other present-day in the mid-2010s—as they experience the slow crumble of their respective relationships.
Separation is the main theme, but Schanelec is more interested in the contemplation of their states of being.
Their (mutual) silences, the static compositions, the use of light and shadow, the randomity of life, the passing of time, etc. all contribute to The Dreamed Path’s elusive quality as we try to grasp not so much the emotions of these characters, but why they feel how they feel.
In a way, it is almost an ontological exercise in understanding what debilitates us as human beings beyond what is rationalised from the veneer of facial or body expressions.
The Dreamed Path is challenging to view, but whether it proves rewarding depends ultimately on the viewer’s propensity to recognise Schanelec’s attempt to chart new possibilities for cinema here.