On the planet of the artsy new sci-fi movie Strawberry Mansion, society has developed the expertise to file goals. And in typical over-the-top Silicon Valley trend, if somebody can observe folks’s ideas and actions, they’re going to undoubtedly attempt to monetize it. The federal government now has a workforce of auditors that critiques these goals and applies a small tax on sure items that seem. Dreaming a few scorching air balloon? That’ll be $0.52. Have ideas of maple timber dancing by means of your head? A modest $0.08, please.
James Preble (performed by co-writer/co-director Kentucker Audley) works as a dream auditor. And he is been assigned to audit the dream stock of an older girl named Bella (Penny Fuller). Sadly, Bella hasn’t saved up with expertise very effectively, and all her goals have been saved on previous VHS tapes as an alternative of the extra trendy (and USB-like) dreamstick expertise. So this audit will take a bit longer than regular. Accordingly, Preble finally ends up staying with Bella for just a few days within the spare room of her large, countryside home.
Whereas Preble stays with Bella, nevertheless, he begins to take up some sort of relationship with the younger Bella (Grace Glowicki) he meets in her goals. And the longer he stays with present-day Bella, the extra he begins to be taught there could also be extra to this dream stock expertise than he initially believed. “Do you imagine your goals are your individual?” she asks at some point over ominous afternoon tea.
Appears like an important premise for a sci-fi flick, proper? A splash of Inception blended with a pinch of 1984 alongside some romance and the dry comedian sensibility of I Coronary heart Huckabees. Author/administrators Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley (who partnered on the 2017 SXSW movie, Sylvio) completely have some nice concepts, from the general premise to the evil lurking within the film’s second half and what that evil says about trendy society (trace: it is damning satire). Strawberry Mansion additionally has an excessive stage of craft put into it. You may wish to instantly queue up the Dan Deacon-penned rating on Spotify. The absurdist visible concepts inside the dream sequences are sometimes pleasant. And all all through, there’s hazy lensing that visually mimics beloved style B-movies of yore (Birney evidently shot the movie digitally earlier than transferring it to 16mm movie). It is a sensual feast of a movie… however whether or not it really works for a given viewer seemingly is determined by their tolerance for arthouse sensibilities.
Whereas it is by no means uninteresting to take a look at, Strawberry Mansion typically has a glacial tempo. It takes practically the primary third of the movie to get a grasp on the fundamental plot as described above. The center act picks up, like a tense thriller is about to unfold post-reveal. However then the ultimate stretch reverts to the extra luxurious, museum-gazing pacing full with some actually over-the-top goals. There have been moments once I could not decide whether or not Preble was alive or lifeless or someplace in between… however both means, he undoubtedly sails throughout the seas as a Nineteenth-century naval captain to seek out his misplaced “love.” She is, in fact, the youthful dream model of an previous girl he needed to audit. And he has two anthropomorphic rats as his crew.
Strawberry Mansion could be lots.
The principle performances are all participating, regardless. Audley is restrained as Preble, and his auditor is commonly simply as bewildered because the viewers. Fuller as Bella will not be up with the most recent expertise, however she clearly has a whole lot of knowledge about trendy life and morsels it out coyly. And veteran character actor Reed Birney (Vice President Blythe in center seasons of House of Cards) is ideally forged as a wonderfully unlikable try-hard from Bella’s previous who reveals as much as complicate issues.
I’ll have muttered WTF to myself a number of instances all through Strawberry Mansion, but I’ve thought in regards to the movie extra after the actual fact than I might have imagined. Nonetheless, would I like to recommend it to others? First, I might ask in case you’ve ever been to a spot just like the R Bar in New Orleans. It is that specific sort of hip, dimly lit however unpretentious pub that retains a TV above the bar, normally on silent. Such a set capabilities basically as kinetic wallpaper to no matter journey lies forward of you, so these bar TVs normally play trippy, retro fantasy movies of the ’70s and ’80s. Restricted assets and an absence of digital VFX meant some ridiculous puppets, backdrops, or costumes made it to display screen. Hokey within the second; charmingly retro and fascinating now.
Strawberry Mansion can and will completely display screen on this setting sometime. And when it does, some patrons will get caught up by the eyeful and lean in, eager to know extra and permitting themselves to get misplaced on this fantastical world for ~90 minutes. Everybody else? They’re going to flip to the individual subsequent to them, mutter WTF, chuckle, then transfer on.
Strawberry Mansion debuted on the 2021 Sundance Movie Competition and is at the moment available on VOD as a part of the 2021 hybrid version of the nice style occasion, Fantasia Fest. As of this summer time, distributor Music Field Movies reportedly had plans for a theatrical and digital launch later this 12 months, however no launch date has been introduced.