Written & Directed by: #MatteoMauroni
Produced by: Matteo Mauroni, #FabioSbordone
Cinematography by: #AnaKrkljus
Dreams is the kind of film I imagine worked better on the page than its screen adaptation accomplished. Writer/director Matteo Mauroni presents the short film as a collision between fantasy and reality, although the experience is more akin to a garrulous monologue. With a good sense of how to communicate its intentions in images, but decidedly not in dialogue or storyline, Dreams would have been very effective as a painting, a poem, or even a candid diary entry. As a film, however, it doesn’t engage the viewer as anything other than a shaggy-dog tale.
Rita (Natasha Culzac) arrives at a café for some after-work drinks with her friend Gemma (Isabel Patterson). As she narrates a funny story about the goings on at her office, Rita notices that Gemma is decidedly absent from the conversation and asks what the problem is. Gemma explains that she can’t stop thinking about a dream she had the preceding night, wherein a dream man (Paul-Emile Forman) – in every sense of the word – appeared and initiated a kind of existential crisis in her upon awaking. Rita listens with intrigue as Gemma explores the implications of this encounter. But, with dreams taking over her life, can she be sure of reality anymore?
First of all, praise must go to Mauroni and cinematographer Ana Krkljus for their well-constructed visual semantics: the fantasy/dream sequences are sensual, colourful and seductive, whilst the ‘real-world’ portions are suitably drab, washed out and warm without being cosy, a very sensitive touch which sets the scene perfectly. The lead performances from Patterson and Culzac are also well handled by both actors, particularly Culzac who acts with both authority and charisma. Technical aspects aside, however, the general premise of Dreams is distinctly uninteresting and drab. It is essentially the much-too-invested ramblings of one friend to another, and Gemma surely puts far too much emotion into the fictional experience to be accepted so earnestly by Rita? The whole ordeal is a ‘much ado about nothing’ matter: a tale too personal to be relatable, particularly as it’s all in her head anyway.
On the film’s IMDb page, Dreams is touted as a story in which ‘love and acceptance’ results from a tale fusing fantasy and reality. This outline feels slightly overblown after the film has ended and the credits are rolling; it didn’t seem that acceptance played any part in the story arc at all. In fact, the prevailing emotion was a sense of emptiness and loss because reality cannot stack up to our imagination. Similarly, love is not portrayed in way consistent with expectations. It might be more accurate to describe Dreams as a tale of longing and desire – after all, Gemma doesn’t know this man, she has simply conjured a physical ideal in her mind. Perhaps the most glaring flaw of the movie is this: it is an idea that doesn’t work as a narrative film. If the concept could somehow be condensed into an expressionist painting or an evocative poem, that might have been a more appropriate medium. As it is, the subject matter rings as solipsistic and inconsequential.