Directed by Joseph Wright Starring Valentin Shlyakhtichev and Charlotte Hayes Short Film Review by Catherine Pearson
Lucidity is a visually striking look into how the unconscious is able to recreate the familiar in the form of dreams and play games with our precious memories.
The dreamer (Valentin Shlyakhtichev) has a series of lucid dreams over the course of one restless night, each time treading familiar ground and each time coming across a woman (Charlotte Hayes) whom he is unable to connect with before waking.
Joseph Wright has created a visually beautiful world in Lucidity; a world in which everything looks normal and yet there is something uncanny about it. The dreamer treads streets that would be familiar to any Londoner and yet it is clear that he is treading the line between reality and dream. The cinematography goes a long way in helping to create a familiar looking world in which something is not quite ‘right’. The blurring of scenic shots makes night lights and crowds of people unnaturally silent and distant whilst the camera’s shallow depth of field maintains focus on the dreamer in the foreground and his response to the dream; he is kept in sight whilst what we see of his surroundings can be at times limited.
It is made very clear from Valentin Shlyakhtichev’s understated performance as the dreamer that the places within the dream are known to him. The decision has clearly been made to steer the narrative clear of confusion and fear at the dream to one of passivity and acceptance and Shlyakhtichev is hypnotic to watch. In this slightly distorted but familiar dream world he walks about with a calm curiosity and a numb acceptance of his reliving old memories; a muted look of wonder that could so easily have been overplayed.
It is only when the character of the dreamer wakes that the flowing images are interrupted and the audience is effectively jolted into the familiar feeling of groggy uncertainty that most people will have experienced when they wake in the middle of the night. In this way Lucidity contains a point of reference for almost every viewer and therefore casts the audience under its spell, with the aid of mellow yet other-worldly music from James Green that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Café Del Mar album.
There is a clear message from the filmmaker about dreams’ ability to alter memory and tamper with places that are precious to the dreamer. We watch the dreamer’s attempts to make contact with a woman from his past, an inaccessible figure that he hasn’t the control to approach despite his control to explore in the rest of the dream and it is as frustrating as when you wake up before the ‘good bit’.
Have you ever tried to recall a place but the first picture that comes to mind is one from a recent dream of it? A place that was right but not right? Lucidity puts into images what we often try to put into words after we awake.