Hermia & Helena is a film of dead ends and new beginnings, navigating different hemispheres and languages with amorous detours, where the written words of Shakespeare clash with the entanglements of modern, digital life.
It is the conversations that we do not have that often haunt and perplex us the most about our relationships. A little girl does what she can to assist a wounded friend, a young couple sings and sleeps together in a foreign land, a lethal dose of drugs is administered to a parent and a marriage falls apart without accusation or reproach. Few words are exchanged in each situation, yet hearts are bound together, broken, strengthened or diminished. Conversation is futile or ineffectual. The moments pass mysteriously as in a dream. Words are replaced by music, the serenity of nature, impulsive and incomplete gestures and other indefinable things.
The Dreamed Path is a complex, resplendent and moving meditation on human nature, the limitations of words and the defining yet vague moments from the past that flit beyond our reach like uncatchable butterflies. Too often directors and actors attempt to control how we think and react, yet Schanelec deftly leaves such choices to audiences as well as her characters. "Do not think, just feel," she urged the audience before the film began at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It is good advice, for facts are artificial, malleable and truly stranger than fiction. We cannot hope to know what the characters do not even know for themselves. Wonderfully, the same logic pervades the film's cinematography. It seems like there are no cameras present as we float around the characters and become part of their decisions and lives.
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